From the Inman recall to green ooze: News you may have missed over the holidays

By: - January 6, 2020 3:03 pm

Michigan Capitol | Susan J. Demas

The Advance took some much-needed time off over the holiday break, but that didn’t mean the news slept. 

During that time, we had a state lawmaker arrested for drunken driving, further environmental scares and more developments in the ongoing sagas of state Rep. Larry Inman (R-Williamsburg) and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s ban on flavored vaping products. 

Below is your catch-up on some of the news that occurred while we (and hopefully you) rested. 

Inman recall effort

Constituents of the embattled northern Michigan lawmaker got a small win just after the new year when the state Court of Appeals reversed course and ruled that a recall effort was valid despite typos in the petition language.

That order came weeks after the court denied a previous appeal. 

However, it appears the effort to recall the Grand Traverse County politician — who last month was found not guilty of lying to the FBI and had a mistrial on corruption charges — is still short of the needed signatures after a preliminary canvas by the Bureau of Elections, according to multiple news reports. 

Green ‘ooze’ in Madison Heights

Michigan’s industrial past and the lack of cleanup continues to create issues for the state. 

Susan J. Demas

Just before Christmas, a toxic green substance gushed on to the shoulder of I-696 in Madison Heights. The oozing material came from a company called Electro-Plating Services, which has a history of “extreme mismanagement of hazardous waste,” according to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE). 

Federal regulators last week took nearby surface water and soil samples to determine the extent of the contamination at the site, EGLE said in a statement. 

The owner of the site in Madison Heights has reported to federal prison on charges of illegal handling of hazardous waste, the Detroit News reported on Monday. Regulators say they’re also exploring possible contamination at a site in Sanilac County in the Thumb region of the state. 

State Rep. Shane Hernandez (R-Port Huron), who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, said he was “outraged” by the contamination situations and pledged to hold hearings that would “focus on what state environmental quality officials knew about possible contamination, when they knew about it, and what was done in response.”

Rep. Warren arrested

State Rep. Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor) was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving just after Christmas, according to multiple news reports. 

Warren was pulled over on the evening of Dec. 26, while driving north on I-75 in Auburn Hills. She reportedly told police she had been at an event in Detroit and was heading home to Ann Arbor. Ann Arbor, however, is west of Detroit. 

In a statement to the Detroit Free Press, the longtime legislator acknowledged making a “stupid mistake” and “will do everything I can to guarantee that this never happens again.” Warren is term-limited this year.

Supreme Court won’t reinstate vaping ban

The state Supreme Court on Dec. 27 declined Whitmer’s request to reinstate a ban on flavored vaping products, meaning stores can continue to sell the liquids. 

The justices ruled that the matter must first be ruled on by the state Court of Appeals.

DTE energy plan

A Michigan administrative law judge was strongly opposed to a 15-year energy plan submitted DTE Energy to the Michigan Public Service Commission.

In an almost 200-page opinion, Judge Sally Wallace wrote that DTE’s plan violates several state laws and recommended that the energy company file an updated plan once the Public Service Commission issues its final opinion. 

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Nick Manes
Nick Manes

Nick Manes is a former Michigan Advance reporter, covering West Michigan, business and labor, health care and the safety net. He previously spent six years as a reporter at MiBiz covering commercial real estate, economic development and all manner of public policy at the local and state levels.