Public sector

Citizens cannot do their job of running their government if they don’t know what their public servants are doing. Bridge will take you beyond the political food fights into the policy decisions that affect everyday life.

Missing in action: Michigan’s primary voters

Dozens of state House primary races will likely shape both parties for years to come. And yet 4-in-5 voters are expected to stay home on Aug. 2.

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Amid guns and violence and police shootings, a program that works

Operation Ceasefire, designed to get police and young people talking and taking responsibility, has shown results in cities across the nation. Kalamazoo is betting it can work there, too.




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As hunting wanes, selling Michigan to a new outdoors generation

Critics say the state must better promote a $19-billion industry built on biking, kayaking and other pursuits to attract young adventurists, and residents. More REI than Cabela’s.




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Blue-collar Duluth transformed by outdoor tourism economy

A once-declining industrial city now breathes new life by banking on its outdoor recreation assets




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Bridge book on Flint crisis offers lessons on government failure

“Poison on Tap,” the first book released on Flint’s lead-poisoning disaster, shows how a series of government missteps left children in this impoverished city with a lifetime of heartache. A portion of book sales will go to help those children.




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Michigan balks at rule shortening full-contact practice for high school football

A new guideline recommends no more than 90 minutes of hitting a week to reduce brain injury, but official policy still allows up to six hours. That’s six times what Ohio and Wisconsin allow.




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City dwellers came for the tax breaks. Will they stay when breaks expire?

Cities like Detroit, Grand Rapids and Muskegon lured young professionals to struggling neighborhoods with tax breaks that allowed them to pay a pittance in taxes for beautiful homes or condos. Should those breaks be extended?




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Live free and die: Michigan’s motorcycle helmet law four years later

In 2015, Michigan recorded the highest number of motorcycle deaths in 30 years, with an average of 14 more deaths annually since a law requiring helmets was dropped. Lansing has no interest in revisiting the helmet law.




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Bipartisan bill to make governor, lawmakers subject to open records law in doubt

After disclosure of government incompetence in Flint, there were passionate calls for Michigan to join 48 other states in making the governor and legislature subject to the state’s public records laws. But House and Senate leaders remain reluctant.




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Flint syndrome:

Welcome to Pennsylvania, where cash-poor cities work together with state emergency managers.

In Part 2, Bridge shows how Pennsylvania and Ohio are taking a different approach to keeping their cities strong




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Flint syndrome:

Revenue tools help Toledo survive through tough times

What Michigan can learn from this Ohio border city, which manages to balance its budget and keep cops on the street despite budget challenges.




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Flint syndrome:

Fewer cops, abandoned parks, and why more cities will crumble unless Michigan changes

When cities lose 2,300 police officers, it’s time for Michigan to look in the mirror.




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Flint syndrome:

Database: How many cops has your town lost?

Plenty of Michigan towns and cities lost 30, 40 or even 50 percent of its police force in the past decade.




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Flint syndrome:

In Wayne, passing the hat for a fire hose

Out of money, the city of Wayne depends on public generosity to maintain public safety. Is this any way to run a government?




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Flint syndrome:

In Battle Creek, a starving Cereal City

The “breakfast capital of the world” is having its lunch eaten by a fraying municipal infrastructure.




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Flint syndrome:

In Saginaw, parks and wreck

Saginaw’s recreation department was eliminated following cuts to state revenue sharing money, which used to be the city’s biggest funding source




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Not waiting for government, philanthropy steps up to help Flint

In an echo of Detroit’s “grand bargain,” 10 Michigan foundations, led by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, are combining to inject up to $125 million into Flint’s recovery.




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Are tampons as essential as toilet paper? Menstruation goes mainstream

The Michigan Legislature has yet to hold hearings on a measure that would require that tampons be provided free in public schools and state buildings. Other bills would exempt menstrual products from the state sales tax.




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