The abortion arguments in Michigan • Sky-high water bill stories • Persisting issues with Brighton seamstress

Law doesn't like uncertainty and right now, there's a lot of it in regard to abortion in Michigan. 

Does the Michigan constitution grant the right to an abortion? Does the law banning assisted suicide also pertain to before the life is born? And will any of this matter come November when voters cast a ballot on a petition to legalize the practice?

At least some of those questions will see some resolution after a two-day hearing in Oakland County where legal teams representing both pro and anti-abortion stances are debating the practice and the temporary restraining order preventing the law that bans the practice from being enforced.

In a call-back to the infamous doctor who was caught performing assisted suicides, Attorney David Kallmann said the law on abortion was already decided when the state ruled Jack Kevorkian did not have the right to take a life even when it wants to, so why would someone have the right to end it before it is born?

"There's no way this court should be granting a preliminary injunction on a right that doesn't exist and try to manufacture something under bodily integrity that Kevorkian and all these other cases don't support," said Kallman. "There's never been a case that said there is a right to an abortion under bodily integrity ever."

Kallman is representing county prosecutors who argue they should be allowed to pursue enforcing Michigan's 1931-era law that bans the practice without exception for rape or incest. 

But attorneys for Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who is suing the prosecutors, say the law is from a different era and doesn't have legitimate relevance in today's discourse.

"In the 1930s, there was a movement against women's increasing participation in civic life and political life and the anti-abortion movement sprung out of that to try and return women to what was seen as their rightful place as mothers," said Washtenaw County Prosecutor Eli Savit.

Kallman said laws are not invalid "just because they're old."

Testimony was also given, including from one doctor who said there is more trauma sustained during an unhealthy pregnancy than an abortion.  

Oakland County Judge Jacob Cunningham ordered the temporary restraining order on the ban be extended until Aug. 18 while he hears arguments. A decision could come from him as soon as this afternoon.

But the conclusion of this case will only bring temporary relief to team with the successful argument with a pending ballot petition which would enshrine the right to an abortion in the state constitution if it passes in November.

The nonprofit that worked to get the petition on the ballot secured the highest number of signatures ever, an indication of the energy behind the topic which is proving to heavily influence the arguments from politicians leading into the 2022 Midterms. 

Read more about the case here

Oakland Township residents see $400 rate increase on water

Oakland Township residents will see their water bills rise by hundreds of dollars over the next few decades as the region works to pay off the debt from a new water storage tank that's been in the works for years. 

In order to pay for what the township describes as "state-mandates improvements" to its water systems, it's tacking on about $100 to each resident's water bill every quarter for the next 30 years.

Residents at a town hall meeting Wednesday night weren't happy about the rate increase. But this is the price for water improvements, the township argued. Construction on a new 500,000-gallon water storage tank has been in the works since 2014 as Oakland Charter Township considered how to pay for the $5.2 million project. 

The new tank, built at the Knorrwood Pines well house property is expected to be finished in 2023. The township said the improvements will protect public health and improve water system reliability. According to population estimates from 2021, the township has 20,177 people living in it, nearly double from a decade ago. 

Read more here

Seamstress still leaving brides-to-be without dresses

The seamstress that hung her clients out to dry and endangering their wedding plans has continued leaving brides on read. FOX 2 has heard from several more women who have a similar story to share: their gowns are nowhere to be found.

The seamstress Jasmine Hollon has closed up shop permanently - but still has the wedding dresses that were dropped off months ago for alterations. She announced Tuesday she would be closing permanently and giving the dresses back to their owners Wednesday. One client went to pick it up Wednesday but, no luck.

"I tried calling and texting her, she didn’t show up, didn’t respond," she said. "She actually texted my fiancé and said she was in an accident." The many stories FOX 2 has continued hearing come with a high price tag. 

FOX 2 reached out to Alterations Unlimited for comment, but have received no response yet. Mackenzie Dancer who we profiled in our first story, did get her dress just days before the wedding she was attending.

Here are more stories of the bad business people describe from the seamstress.

Melvindale police plead for more resources

A council meeting brought a clash between Melvindale police and city officials as members of the roughly 17-person force issued a warning. "For a number of years the officers of the Melvindale Police Department have sounded the alarm that our police department is heading towards the edge of a cliff," said Sgt. Matthew Furman.

Furman, representing his brothers and sisters in blue says the sticking points are staffing and pay. And the list of grievances goes on and on.

"A combination of the lowest pay in the Downriver area and the second-lowest pay in Wayne County, no pension or meaningful retirement, lousy benefits and other factors such as a rundown station, insufficient equipment, lack of training, lack of opportunity, chronic short-staffing and excessive forced overtime has taken its toll," he told the council.

Melvindale city sources say officer pay starts around $44,000 and tops out at $61,000 after five years. Police say many officers simply jump ship for higher paying departments, after just two years on the job.

The city said the issue is partly to blame on pensions. Here's what else they said.

A 92-year-old man's $4,000 water bill

A 92-year-old Detroit man got a $4,000 water bill in the mail after the city said he used 200,000 gallons of water. Typically Robert Hightower's bill ranges from $60 to $80, but then the bill jumped to $1,900 his daughter said.

"The first high bill I was totally shocked," said Sanquise Jackson. But the water department said they couldn't find any leaks when they were called. Hightower's bill then rose another $2,000 when Jackson used 183,000 gallons of water. 

Jackson says her father's bill is back to normal now - and she's not paying thousands of dollars for water he didn't use. "There's no way he can pay it - he's a senior citizen on a fixed income," Sanquise said. "I don't know if this bill is real, is it computer error? How are you getting these numbers?"

"We did test the meter - the meter was functioning - what we can do - we'll do another audit on the meter readings and we'll also refer them to Wayne Metro so that they can get enrolled in the lifeline plan," said Bryan Peckinpaugh with the city's water department.

Read the full story here

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Daily Forecast

Temperatures will climb slightly higher Thursday but the low humidity should keep things comfortable in Southeast Michigan. There won't be any rain to expect for the next two days either. This weekend could get a bit messier, however. 

What else we're watching

  1. Among the customers struggling through Metro Detroit's water boil advisories are restaurants that find themselves feeling the impact. It's becoming a headache for places like Avi'ari Cuisine in Shelby Township.
  2. A felon who posed as a certified therapist at an autism treatment center has been charged, following a FOX 2 investigation headed up in September by Taryn Asher. Read the full story here
  3. Detroit's Labor Day March has been canceled for a third year in a row. The group overseeing the march said it was due to a rise in cases from monkeypox and COVID. 
  4. Major traffic crashes on I-75 in Auburn Hills and I-96 in Detroit has led to closures while Michigan State Police investigate. Drivers beware. 
  5. It was an argument in a park that led to an 18-year-old shooting a 12-year-old girl, Detroit police said. 

US traffic deaths continue to rise, hitting 20-year high in early 2022

U.S. traffic deaths, once in decline, have continued to climb over the past couple of years and hit a two-decade high in early 2022. 

In the first three months of the year, 9,560 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes, a 7% increase from a year ago, according to estimates shared Wednesday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

It was the highest number of first-quarter traffic deaths since 2002.