Mass vaccination site coming to Michigan, witness in Whitmer kidnap case arrested, harassment at Wayne State

The next summer is shaping up to be the return-to-normal event of the year after the timeline for getting adults vaccinated was moved up to May 1. 

Based on an estimate from the president the night before, every adult will eligible for a vaccine by the start of May, while Americans should expect some semblance of normalcy by July 4.

It will require a massive undertaking to administer hundreds of millions of vaccines. That includes a new mass vaccination site in Michigan. 

It's unclear where that site will be located. Detroit has made good use of the TCF Center as its main hub for getting residents vaccinated. But Ford Field remains an option as well.

Several thousand school educators and staff traveled to the football stadium weeks ago ahead of the district's return to in-person learning. 

The news site Politico first reported plans from the Biden administration to announce a new mass vaccination site in Michigan. Other states like Arizona, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Virginia, and Washington are also being considered.

Even as the state crawls forward with an increase in protection, Detroit is lagging behind. So far, only 12.7% of the city has been covered - a little more than half of surrounding counties and about nine points less than the state of Michigan in total.

Currently, adults 50 years and older who have pre-conditions that compromise their health are eligible for a vaccine. That number is expected to increase in the coming weeks.

BLM sticker, pride flag triggers vandalism at Waye State

A Wayne State student who says she was targeted and harassed for her support of social justice movements and LGBTQ rights while living in campus housing has left the complex.

In one instance, Zori Martinez says she found smashed eggs on her dorm room floor. Two weeks later, another act of vandalism. Then, she had her welcome mat and a photo of her dog stolen. "I felt this is them saying we are not welcome here anymore," she said.

The university says the police were told about the crimes prior to the request from Martinez. A spokesperson has also said the university was responsible from the first moment they heard about harassment. 

Martinez has since moved off campus and is hoping whoever is responsible is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The university also released a statement saying it treats the incidents seriously but doesn't know the reason behind the vandalism.

Key witness in Whitmer kidnap case arrested

One of the federal investigator's key witnesses in the Whitmer kidnap plot case that has charged several with plotting to abduct the Michigan governor has been arrested on felony firearm possession.

Steve Robson, 57, was indicted by federal authorities after he was found to be in possession of a .50-caliber sniper rifle. Does his arrest jeopardize the investigation?

"Actually I think it bodes well for the prosecution because it adds credibility to the witness," said attorney Todd Flood. But others suggest it could reveal a breakdown in the relationship between the FBI and Robeson, which the defense team may use to poke holes in the case.

"In cross-examination with snitches and informants, they have one rule - what's in it for them trying to get out the case, right?" Flood said. "Well here he didn't get out of his case, and he's facing time." 

Power struggle between governor, GOP jeopardizes relief funds

Michigan hasn't appropriated all of the funds it received from the last relief bill, and yet, another $10 billion is on the way from Thursday's new relief package. Unlike the last set of funds, which was partly vetoed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer over contingencies linked to the funding's appropriation, this new money has a deadline.

State Rep. Tom Albert, the House Budget Chair, gave Whitmer an ultimatum - he will negotiate with her on the $10 billion relief package, but she must agree to include the GOP in future COVID-19 economic decisions. The money has to be spent within 60 days.

Billions of dollars in federal aid approved last December never made it to schools and businesses because Albert linked their appropriation to Whitmer giving up her emergency powers for shutting down schools. Neither has budged on the issue.

The new round of money goes to COVID-19 vaccines, testing, higher education, K-12 schooling, and child care. Detroit also would receive $880 million in assistance.

Advocates argue overtaxing in Detroit is leading to foreclosures

An advocacy group is arguing the over-assessment of houses in the city of Detroit from the last two decades is harming its residents that are struggling to keep up with costs.

The Coalition for Property Tax Justice says between 55 and 85% of all properties in the city have assessments that are in violation of the Michigan State Constitution. Another study from the University of Chicago found the homes evaluated between 2016 and 2018 at the lowest value are still being over-assessed.

However, Alvin Horhn, Detroit's tax assessor, says the studies are no good and the situation has improved greatly. "That's flatly false, that is not true," he said. "That's why the city has the most robust appeals process in the state so when we get it wrong, we fix it."

Mary Sheffield, the City Council President Pro Tem, says the inability of advocates and city officials to get on the same page has historically deprived African Americans of owning property and accessing housing.

What else we're watching

  1. Macomb County's prosecutor is asking anyone with concerns about the transfer, incident, or death of a relative into a nursing home to fill out a form and submit it to law enforcement.
  2. Today is the last day that legacy Detroiters have to submit an application for a marijuana dispensary license. Learn more here.
  3. A big batch of money just got dropped on the American electorate - and many will be receiving a $1,400 check as part of the relief program. Money should start arriving as soon as the end of this weekend.
  4. Be on the lookout for stores celebrating 313 Day tomorrow. Some stores are giving out prizes to commemorate the special day.
  5. Daylight Savings Time will go into effect on March 14. Be ready for that late morning wakeup.

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Daily Forecast

Temperatures are falling ever so slightly back to 55 degrees today. Don't expect any more 60-degree days for a bit with most temperatures hovering in the low 50s over the next week. Clouds will begin to peak out around late afternoon before fading.

Biden wants all adults vaccine-eligible by May 1

One year after the nation was brought to a near-standstill by the coronavirus, President Joe Biden is outlining his plan Thursday to get the country "closer to normal" by the Fourth of July, using his first prime-time address to offer Americans fresh hope and appeal for their help to meet his timetable.

Speaking in the White House East Room, Biden will announce moves to speed vaccinations, including directing that all states make all adults eligible for doses by May 1. Previewing his remarks, senior administration officials said Biden would also announce steps to expand the number of places and categories of people who can give shots, aiming to let Americans gather at least in small groups for the Independence Day holiday.

Biden is marking one year since the onset of the pandemic that has killed more than 530,000 Americans and disrupted the lives of countless more.