Michigan Headlines

Whitmer calls for end to chokeholds, other police reforms

LANSING (AP) — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called Monday for an end to the use of police chokeholds and limiting no-knock warrants.
The recommendations come as states have been considering ways to prevent racial bias and address police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s death. The move follows efforts earlier this month to expand a commission that sets policing standards.
The Democrat’s plan calls for categorizing racially motivated 911 calls harassing individuals as hate crimes, requiring ongoing training for law enforcement to maintain a license and directing state health officials to recommend best practices for police when dealing with a person with mental illness, according to a news release.
“All Michiganders, no matter their community or the color of their skin, deserve equal treatment under the law,” Whitmer said, adding her plan would ensure police “treat all Michiganders with humanity and respect.”
Earlier in June, Whitmer added civilians and the director of the Department of Civil Rights to the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards.

Michigan Headlines

Drive-up US citizenship eases backlog, but new threat looms

DETROIT (AP) — A 60-year-old U.K. citizen drove into a Detroit parking garage on a recent afternoon, lowered the window of her SUV to swear an oath, and left as a newly minted American.
It took less than 30 minutes.
Anita Rosenberger is among thousands of people around the country who have taken the final step to citizenship this month under COVID-19 social-distancing rules that have turned what has long been a patriotic rite of passage into something more like a visit to a fast-food restaurant.
“It was a nice experience in spite of the fact that I was in the car by myself with a mask on,” said Rosenberger, a sales manager for an electronics component company from suburban Detroit.
“And I will say that I will remember this.”
Similar drive-thru ceremonies are being held around the country, but perhaps for not much longer. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services says a budget crisis could force the agency to furlough nearly three-quarters of its workforce, severely curtailing operations as tens of thousands of people wait to become citizens.
That could have potential political consequences, especially in states such as Michigan and Florida where the number of newly naturalized Americans already exceeds the narrow margin of victory for President Donald Trump in 2016.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if you have several hundred thousand people who are not in a position to vote in this election but would have been if business had been progressing normally at USCIS,” said Randy Capps of the Migration Policy Institute. “That’s been everyone’s concern.”
The citizenship agency has not detailed publicly how it will operate if it doesn’t get $1.2 billion in emergency funding from Congress before Aug. 3. It said in a written response to questions that “all USCIS operations will be impacted by a furlough” that covers more than 13,000 workers.
USCIS derives nearly all its $4.8 billion budget from fees it charges to people who apply to live or work in the country. Revenue was already in decline under Trump, whose administration has imposed a number of immigration restrictions. The agency says COVID-19 caused it to drop by half.
“The effects of the coronavirus pandemic are long reaching and pervasive, leaving few unscathed in its wake,” Acting Director Joseph Edlow said.
In written responses to questions, the agency says it would pay back the money it receives from Congress with a 10% surcharge on fees.
While the agency cites the pandemic for its budget woes, immigration experts and a USCIS employee union say other factors include administration policies of devoting more resources to vetting applications and searching for fraud.
The administration has also halted a number of programs — including a recent freeze on H-1B visas for skilled workers — that provide an important source of revenue for USCIS.
“The agency has really moved away from its mission and become more of an enforcement agency that carries out the agenda of the Trump administration,” said Diego Iñiguez-Lopez, policy and campaigns manager for the National Partnership for New Americans, an immigrant advocacy organization.
USCIS typically swears in 15,000 new citizens per week.
The agency said there were about 110,000 people waiting to take the oath when they shut down in-person operations in March because of the virus. It said it expects to work through the backlog by the end of July, thanks in part to ceremonies like the one held at the federal building in Detroit or similar ones outside a minor league baseball stadium in Des Moines, Iowa, and a community recreation center near San Diego.
Some in Congress have pushed to allow virtual swearing-in ceremonies, but the agency has refused.

Michigan Headlines

State leaders agree on shortfall

LANSING (AP) — An agreement to address a $3.2 billion shortfall in Michigan’s 2020 budget was announced Monday by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and legislative leaders to respond to deep budget shortfalls brought on by the pandemic crisis.
The agreement includes reductions in funding and also provides federal COVID-19 relief funding for schools, universities, community colleges and local governments, businesses and workers, Whitmer, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and House Speaker Lee Chatfield said in a joint statement.
“In this time of crisis, it is our responsibility to come together and build a budget that reflects a bipartisan commitment to the things we value most as Michiganders,” their statement said. “This agreement provides crucial funding for Michigan families, schools, and communities grappling with costs incurred as a result of the virus.”
They said would work together to address shortfalls in next year’s budget and asked for congressional help in the next budget. The current budget year ends Sept. 30.
The agreement still requires approval by the full Legislature.

Michigan Sports

Detroit Red Wings to stay home at Little Caesars Arena for next season’s training camp

DETROIT (AP) — The Red Wings plan to hold their training camp for the 2020-21 NHL season at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit because of concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.
Red Wings executive vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced the decision Monday to stay home instead of going to Traverse City, where the team usually trains. He said it was made after consulting with health experts.
Yzerman also announced the cancellation of the 2020 NHL Prospect Tournament and Training Camp Golf Classic. Both events are expected to return to Traverse City next year.
“The health and safety of our fans, players and staff is our top concern,” Yzerman said.


Top state high school basketball prospect Emoni Bates commits to Michigan State

EAST LANSING. (AP) — State basketball standout Emoni Bates has committed to play at Michigan State for the class of 2022.
Bates announced his decision Monday on ESPN to play for the Spartans and coach Tom Izzo.
In April, the 6-foot-9 guard was named Gatorade’s national player of the year, the first sophomore to win the award. He averaged 32 points this year, but missed his chance to help Ypsilanti Lincoln High School repeat as state champions due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Bates told ESPN that the Spartans have stayed with him over the years having recruited him since he was in seventh grade.

Michigan Sports

Young arms race: Detroit Tigers to rely on youthful pitchers in pool of available players

More info:

Major League Baseball dates:

First reporting date: Wednesday

Detroit Tigers starter Casey Mize pitches during a spring training game against the New York Yankees on March 5 in Lakeland, Fla. (AP file photo)
U.S. team manager Torii Hunter, left, speaks with Matt Manning of the Detroit Tigers before the All-Star Futures baseball game on July 15, 2018, at Nationals Park in Washington. (AP file photo)

First date to play:  July 23 or 24


AP Baseball Writer
Top prospect Wander Franco is part of the Tampa Bay Rays’ 60-man player pool, and the Detroit Tigers are including their most heralded young pitchers as baseball gears up for its abbreviated season.
Sunday was the deadline for teams to submit player pools, although additions can be made later. Many teams announced pools well below the 60-player limit.
These pools will be the players that Major League Baseball teams can call upon to construct their rosters, which begin the season with 30 players and drop to 28 after two weeks and 26 two more weeks later.
Franco, a 19-year-old shortstop, is ranked as the No. 1 prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline. He spent last season at Class A, so it would be quite a jump for him to contribute in the majors in the immediate future, but putting him in the player pool makes him an option for the Rays — and could help his development in a year when the coronavirus shut down the minor leagues.
Pitcher Brendan McKay and infielder Vidal Brujan, two other top Tampa Bay prospects, also made the pool.
“They are some of our more advanced prospects,” Rays general manager Erik Neander said. “Certainly on the position player side that’s where things went and why Wander was a leading candidate for a spot.”
The Tigers are rebuilding around pitching prospects — including Casey Mize, the No. 1 pick in the 2018 draft. He’s in their player pool, along with Matt Manning, Tarik Skubal, Alex Faedo and Franklin Perez.
A majority of teams took at least five catchers, and the defending champion Washington Nationals included a whopping 36 pitchers in their pool. The Baltimore Orioles announced only 44 players total at this time — not counting outfielder Trey Mancini, who was listed on the 45-day injured list and is likely to miss the season following colon cancer surgery in March.
The Nationals included infielder Ryan Zimmerman in their pool, although he said recently he was still deciding whether he would play.
The New York Yankees listed Miguel Andújar and Tyler Wade as infielders/outfielders, a sign they could see more outfield time if Aaron Judge (broken rib), Giancarlo Stanton (strained right calf) and Aaron Hicks (Tommy John surgery) aren’t sufficiently healed. New York put right-hander Luis Severino (Tommy John surgery) on the 45-day IL, agreed to minor league contracts with infielder Matt Duffy and catcher Max McDowell and released right-hander Dan Otero, then re-signed him to a minor league contract.
The Pittsburgh Pirates’ player pool was without reliever Edgar Santana, who will miss all of the 2020 season after being suspended 80 games for violating Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. MLB announced Sunday that Santana tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance.
The Pirates did not include right-hander Quinn Priester or shortstop Nick Gonzales, their top draft picks from 2019 and 2020.
“There was a number of players, aside from Quinn and Nick, who we considered, and we just felt like that we remain hopeful that there will be an opportunity to get them in uniform at a facility in 2020 and if we can do that, that would be just a more productive way for them to continue their development,” general manager Ben Cherington said.

Iowa Sports

Wadley chastises Iowa program

IOWA CITY (AP) — Former Iowa running back Akrum Wadley ripped the Hawkeyes on Monday, saying he was so mistreated by some coaches he now regrets playing there.
Wadley’s statement, posted on Facebook, mentioned coach Kirk Ferentz, his son, offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz, director of player development Broderick Binns and Chris Doyle, the former strength and conditioning coach for the Hawkeyes.
Wadley said Brian Ferentz on several occasions jokingly asked him if he was on his way to commit a robbery when Wadley was leaving with a team-issued wool hat that covered his face in the cold. He said his weight was also a constant issue and was used to belittle him.
“I was threatened by KirkFerentz that my meal card would be taken away and I will not eat nor be able to sit with my teammates during eating sessions,” Wadley wrote. “He did follow through on his threat.”
Wadley, a New Jersey native, piled up a combined 3,633 yards rushing and receiving and scored 35 touchdowns for Iowa.
“I felt like playing for Iowa Football was a living nightmare,” he wrote. “I never drank alcohol prior to going to college but based on my experience there it became the only thing I could rely on, it seems and was what I did to cope.”
More than three dozen former Iowa players, most of them Black, have accused Iowa of racial bias within the program and many singled out Doyle, who left the university and will be paid $1.1 million. Iowa hired a law firm to conduct a review of the football program. Kirk Ferentz has held news conferences and promised to listen to his former players; Binns, a former player, has been named interim director of diversity and inclusion for the athletic department.
A statement issued Monday to the Des Moines Register said Kirk Ferentz would not comment publicly.
“Coach Ferentz believes that meaningful change takes time and a thorough independent examination is already underway,” the statement said. “He remains committed to creating a more inclusive culture for all of his players now and in the years to come.”
Ferentz is Iowa’s career wins leader and enters his 22nd season as the longest-tenured coach of a Bowl Subdivision program. Ferentz earned $5.5 million last year after bonuses, and his contract runs through the 2025 season.

Iowa Headlines

Des Moines police say weekend shooting victim was Keokuk man

DES MOINES (AP) — Des Moines police on Monday identified the victim of a weekend fatal shooting as a Keokuk man. Police were called Saturday night to an industrial area east of downtown and found a dead man on a road. He was identified Monday as Michael Thurman, 41.
On Sunday, police charged Andrew James Hall, 27, of Des Moines, with first-degree murder and first-degree robbery. He was being held in the Polk County Jail.

Iowa Headlines

Man drowns after going for swim while fishing in Linn County

CEDAR RAPIDS (AP) — A man drowned Sunday after going for a swim while fishing at a Linn County quarry, authorities said.
Linn County sheriff’s deputies were called about 9:30 a.m. to the Martin Marietta quarry, southeast of Cedar Rapids. Friends and relatives of a man told deputies he was fishing but opted to swim a short distance. He went under the water and didn’t surface.
Teams from Cedar Rapids and Mount Vernon used boats to search and found the man’s body shortly after 11 a.m.
The sheriff’s office identified him Monday as Jake Beirnes, 19, of Cedar Rapids.

Iowa Headlines

Reynolds signs abortion law amid court challenge

Associated Press
DES MOINES — Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds on Monday signed into law a bill that requires women to wait 24 hours before getting an abortion, trying again to institute a restriction similar to one struck down two years ago by the Iowa Supreme Court.
Reynolds signed the measure into law just after lawyers representing Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and the state wrapped up arguments before a state court judge. The court must now decide whether to halt immediately enforcement of the new law, which is set to take effect Wednesday.
“I am proud to stand up for the sanctity of every human life,” the Republican governor said in a statement. “I applaud the Iowa lawmakers who had the courage to stand strong and take action to protect the unborn child.”
Planned Parenthood claims in a lawsuit filed last week that the bill is unconstitutional in the way it was passed in the middle of the night without public debate. The group argues that the bill also violates the due process and equal protection rights of women seeking an abortion, much like a 72-hour waiting period law the Iowa Supreme Court struck down in 2018.
“The situation feels like Groundhog Day because we were here only three years ago seeking the same emergency relief and litigating a mandatory delay law that was indistinguishable from this one,” said Alice Clapman, lawyer for Planned Parenthood.
The court in that ruling found not only that the waiting period law violated the constitutional rights of women but that the Iowa Constitution guarantees women the right to control their own bodies, which includes seeking an abortion.
Planned Parenthood is asking Judge Mitchell Turner to issue an injunction preventing the newly signed law from being enforced until a trial can be held to determine whether it’s constitutional.
Turner pushed the state’s lawyers to explain how Iowans’ due process rights were met considering the Iowa House amended an unrelated law at 11 p.m. on a Saturday night, and the Iowa Senate than gave final passage at 5 a.m. Sunday.
“Isn’t the hallmark of due process the notion that people require notice and that the citizenry has a right to know what their legislatures are voting on? How does this not fly in the face of due process?” Turner asked.
Thomas Ogden, an assistant attorney general, said there’s nothing wrong with hurriedly passing legislation overnight.
“The court’s role is not to police the legislative process,” Ogden said. “That is a role that is left solely with the people of Iowa.”
The new measure requires a woman to wait 24 hours after an initial appointment for an abortion before the procedure can be initiated. Clapman said that may force some women to wait months to get a second appointment and incur additional costs.
The bill signing and court case comes on a day when a divided U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana law requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.