Tracy Samilton

Tracy Samilton covers the auto beat for Michigan Radio. She has worked for the station for 12 years, and started out as an intern before becoming a part-time and, later, a full-time reporter. Tracy's reports on the auto industry can frequently be heard on Morning Edition and All Things Considered, as well as on Michigan Radio. She considers her coverage of the landmark lawsuit against the University of Michigan for its use of affirmative action a highlight of her reporting career.

Tracy graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in English Literature. Before beginning her journalism career, she spent time working as a legal assistant at various firms in the Ann Arbor area.

The Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards has released its report with recommendations to improve trust in law enforcement in Michigan.

The report states recruits, and police officers, should have more one-on-one interactions with people of different backgrounds - and they should receive more training on mental health issues, de-escalating conflicts, and being aware of unconscious bias.

Governor Snyder got one really good grade, two really bad grades, and a handful of middling grades on his environmental report card from the Michigan League of Conservation Voters this year.

The non-partisan group has Republicans and Democrats on its board.

The report card gives Snyder some credit for taking steps to ameliorate the Flint water crisis, but says the government-caused debacle remains a shameful failing of leadership on his watch. Snyder got an "F" in the new-this-year category of Flint water crisis.

President Donald Trump's proposed budget calls for cutting money for cleaning up Superfund sites by a third. 

But the EPA's new head, Scott Pruitt, has told employees that he's going to make Superfund cleanups a priority.

Activists fighting for the cleanup of a Superfund site along the Pine River in St. Louis, Michigan hope Pruitt will get some more money so he can keep the promise.  It's one of the most polluted Superfund sites in the state.

Republican State Senator John Proos says Governor Rick Snyder's proposed budget has some misguided priorities.

He says the budget allocates $100 more  per K-12 student for 2018 - and $1,480 more per prison inmate. 

Proos claims the extra prison money is essentially for overhead - covering the cost of empty beds as the inmate population shrinks.   Michigan's prison population is projected to shrink from approximately 42,333 in 2016-17 to 40,415 in 2017-2018.

A civil rights group says it's unconstitutional for the Michigan Secretary of State to suspend the drivers licenses of people who are too poor to pay their fines. 

Fake news has become ubiquitous, and it's more sophisticated and thus harder to spot, say communications experts at the University of Michigan.

In response, they'll offer a free online course on Friday, "Fake News, Facts, and Alternative Facts" on the edX website, which universities use to offer free classes to the public.

Brian Weeks teaches communication studies.  He says it's good news that Google and Facebook are launching new tools to help people try to determine if something is true.  But he thinks the best strategy is citizen education.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says it has no current plan to close its Region 5 branch office in Chicago, and calls a Chicago Sun-Times newspaper story reporting the possibility an "unsubstantiated rumor." 

But despite saying the story "has no merit," there's clearly a reason for the rumor.

An EPA official says the agency may merge two of its branch offices, but hasn't decided if it will, let alone which ones. 

A jury in Tennessee has found the owner of a Massachusetts lab that sold contaminated steroids not guilty of second degree murder.  

But the jury did find Barry Cadden guilty on multiple racketeering and mail fraud counts.  

Hundreds of people around the country were sickened when their doctors injected them with steroids produced by Cadden's compounding pharmacy.  The steroid medicine was tainted with a fungus. 

A federal judge says ET Rover Pipeline can immediately seize land from 58 private property owners in Lenawee, Washtenaw, and Livingston counties.

The company said delay would add hundreds of thousands of dollars to the cost of building the new natural gas pipeline.

One of the properties affected by the order is Post 46 Hunting and Fishing Club, which owns 90 acres of wooded land in Pinckney.

Board member Brad Coy says workers have already started to prepare a path for the pipeline.

State Schools Superintendent Brian Whiston plans to ditch an idea to use grades to describe the performance of individual schools in Michigan, under the state's draft plan to comply with the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act.

That's after many groups protested the grades idea.

 

Chris Wigent is with the Michigan Association of School Administrators.

He says grades don't give much detail, and they can be misleading. But he likes the idea of presenting information about schools on what he calls a "dashboard."

Michigan has a new law directing the Michigan Department of Transportation to increase speed limits to 75 miles an hour on up to 600 miles of rural highways in the state.

Russ Rader of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says there's decades of research proving that more people will die as a result.

For every five miles' increase in the speed limit on interstates and highways, says Rader, fatal crashes increase 8%.

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is suing the University of Michigan for taking too long to comply with a Freedom of Information Act request.

Attorney Patrick Wright says his group wanted all emails sent by UM President Mark Schlissel that mentioned the word "Trump."

That's after Schissell publicly disparaged Donald Trump's campaign after he was elected, saying it was based on hate. 

Wright says the University eventually provided four emails, claiming exceptions to several others - but it took 100 days.

Nick Lyon, head of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, has written a letter to McLaren Hospital in Flint, demanding it provide more information on efforts to respond to hospital-acquired Legionnaires' disease, a severe form of pneumonia.

A major outbreak of Legionnaires' was linked to McLaren Hospital in 2014 and 2015, and two more hospital-acquired cases occurred at the hospital in late 2016.

Students at Michigan State University can no longer have message whiteboards mounted on their dorm doors, starting this fall. Misuse of the whiteboards has made them more trouble than they're worth.

Kat Cooper is Director of Communications for Residential Services at MSU.  She says too often, students would scrawl offensive comments on the whiteboards. 

"Racist, sexist, anything in that category. Those have happened. There's been issues with them for a long time," says Cooper. "People write things on them that really aren't not part of our value set at MSU."

Michigan’s passenger rail system doesn’t seem to generate a lot of enthusiasm.

We received this anonymous question on our M-I Curious page: “Why doesn't Michigan have a good passenger train system?”

The question simply begged for clarification, such as, “Who says?” and, “What would you consider good?”

Although the question got a lot of votes, we never heard from "Anonymous" again. 

So we went to the Amtrak station in Ann Arbor to see what we could see.

The train is late, but the train is still great

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