9 charged in Flint probe, Detroit expands eligibility for vaccines, meet the Lions' new General Manager

"What (are) lives worth?" asked Florisa Fowler. "It is never going to be enough. If we could get a sliver of justice, I think it would bring hope to many that we need right now."

Thursday marked a big step in achieving the "sliver of justice" that Fowler and the Flint Water Class Action Facebook group members have sought for years. For those afflicted by the Flint Water Crisis, an Attorney General's press conference shed a little light on the potential penalties that nine former government officials might face.

Rick Snyder, along with former department heads, senior analysts, chief medical executives, emergency managers, and others were arraigned in court Thursday on dozens of charges, from low-level misdemeanors like willful neglect to felonies like involuntary manslaughter.

"Yes it (the charges) brought some relief of course," Fowler said. we were disappointed misdemeanor for Snyder, but the charges for Baird and a few others. Then there were questions about others that should be charged." 

"There are no velvet ropes in the critical justice system," Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud, one of the lead prosecutors in the case said Thursday. "When an entire city is victimized by the negligence and indifference of those in power, it deserves an uncompromising investigation that holds to account anyone who is criminally culpable. That is what all residents in this state are entitled to, regardless of their ZIP code."

Among the most serious charges were 9 counts of involuntary manslaughter, allegedly committed by former MDHHS Director Nick Lyon and his former health chief Eden Wells, after several died from a suspected Legionnaire's outbreak due to the city's water supply being contaminated.

Each is a 15-year felony and a $7,500 fine. 

The former governor's friend and senior adviser, Richard Baird, was hit with perjury, misconduct, obstruction of justice, and extortion charges, all multi-year felonies. 

Snyder himself, the suspect with the highest profile, allegedly committed one of less serious crimes. 

Baird's defense attorney called the charges "political" and intended to "take advantage of the situation."

Detroit expands age eligibility for vaccines

Detroit has lowered the age eligibility for getting the COVID-19 vaccine and expanded the number of professions that can schedule appointments to get the poke.

On Thursday, 600 more residents were vaccinated with the Pfizer treatment, a step up from the 400 that got it on Wednesday. Detroit will ramp up expectations by another 200 people before hitting their goal of a thousand next week. 

"(I'm) really pleased at the way it's going. We went up to 600 people a day and it's going smoothly. Ran into two police officers earlier who had just got their shots," said Mayor Mike Duggan. 

The city says those aged 70 years and older can now schedule an appointment. Those working in the postal service and filling essential roles in the city could also get the vaccine.

"We are going to get our city back by dealing with this one vaccination at a time," Duggan said.

Michigan's high expectations for inoculation were stunted when a fraction of the anticipated doses arrived. State officials argue this has bottlenecked what was supposed to be a smooth rollout. 

However, it's been local health departments and counties that have born the brunt of public outrage that despite the government knowing what was on the way for months, protecting residents has been botched.

There's also progress with signing up to get the vaccine at the TCF Center. To schedule an appointment, call (313) 230-0505.

"On Monday we had 100,000 phone calls and you probably couldn't get through," Duggan said. "On Tuesday we had a 17-minute wait. Yesterday, a 10 minute wait time. And now, we can open this up again."

Missing since Nov. 1, Taylor teen found safe

Gloria Alvarado, the Taylor teen who had gone missing months ago has been found safe.

The Taylor Police Department confirmed the 15-year-old, who had gone missing on Nov. 1, was discovered yesterday.

Alvarado was first reported to have disappeared when her mother went to wake her up for school and couldn't find her. Then she discovered her window screen had been cut and her phone had been left behind.

Police were provided a 14-second video from a neighbor, which showed a car pulled up in front of the teen's home around 1 a.m. The video ends shortly after a man got out of the car. 

Investigators did not release any other information. 

Say hello to the Detroit Lions' new GM

Brad Holmes has been selected to head the team's football program after beginning a nearly 18-year career with the Los Angeles Rams. 

Running the college scouting department at the west coast organization, Holmes' selection is a curious one, considering his background. 

"Several weeks ago when we embarked on this process, it was critical that we find the right person to fit our vision for this team," Lions principal owner and chairman Sheila Ford Hamp said in a statement issued by the team. "It was evident early on that Brad is a proven leader who is ready for this opportunity. We are thrilled to introduce him to our fans as a member of our football family."

Could Holmes be the saving grace that has evaded Detroit football for so long? The team hasn't won a playoff game since 1992, and that's been the only victory since the 1957 postseason.

The Lions reached double digits in losses in 2020 for the third straight season and 13th time this century.

Holmes will have a lot of important decisions to make, including whether to keep or trade quarterback Matthew Stafford.

Other Stories

1. The Grey wolf, which has seen its population rebound in Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, has been stripped of its federal protections. Advocacy groups are asking a federal court to restore them.
2. Fear of the unknown may be at an all-time high for kids, considering the times. Here are some tips for helping children cope with anxiety.
3. A new vaccine hitting the market means new questions. Two medical experts took time Thursday to answer some of the most urgent inquiries. 
4. Doves were released Thursday to honor DeLon and DeMarion Wheeler, who were killed in a Christmas Day house fire. 

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All that missing snow is finally about to return, although it won't look pretty. As temperatures dip over the day, rain in the morning will turn to snow in the afternoon - and that means slush. Temperatures are expected to fall over the weekend and into next week.

National Guard troops from several states sent to Washington DC to assist with inauguration security

The number of National Guard troops coming to Washington D.C. next week to assist with security continues to grow. 

According to the Associated Press, Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, announced this to Vice President Mike Pence at a briefing Thursday. 

Officials have said the number of troops could continue to grow as law enforcement agencies review any ongoing or potential threats.

"Clearly we are in uncharted waters," said Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser.

D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee estimated Wednesday that more than 20,000 National Guard members would be active in the city on Inauguration Day. But officials said Thursday that law enforcement had requested many more, and the number approved by the Pentagon is now 21,000.

As of Thursday, there were roughly 7,000 already in Washington, with thousands more en route. The length of their missions may vary, but Defense Department officials were authorized to deploy the Guard for up to 30 days for the inauguration and surrounding protests.