Tag Archive | LINC UP

Report: Michigan communities, water face twin assaults from environmental budget cuts

 

EPA_SE_Grand_Rapids

These cuts will directly reduce remediation of the toxic plume poisoning families living near Madision and Hall St. SE.

Reposted from LINC-UP June 14, 2017

 

LCV, MEC urge lawmakers to consider combined impact of state, federal proposals

LANSING — Michigan lawmakers are rushing to pass budgets that slash core environmental programs — especially ones protecting our lakes and waterways — without considering the dire impacts they will have when combined with likely cuts at the federal level, a new report from the Michigan Environmental Council and Michigan League of Conservation Voters warns.

The report, prepared by Public Sector Consultants, compiles for the first time all the known environmental programs and protections for public health that are threatened by steep budget cuts currently proposed in Lansing and Washington. At risk are essential programs for protecting the Great Lakes, ensuring safe drinking water and cleaning up toxic contamination, the analysis indicates.

“This report shows that irresponsible, sweeping cuts at the state and federal levels will have real-world impacts from Menominee to Monroe, Taylor to Traverse City,” said Lisa Wozniak, Michigan LCV executive director. “This report is a wake-up call. We urge our elected officials in Lansing to pump the brakes and stop rushing to pass a budget that will only hasten our race to the bottom when it comes to the environment.”

Both the state House and Senate have proposed significant cuts to the Department of Environmental Quality budget. At the same time, President Trump has called for cutting the Environmental Protection Agency budget by nearly a third. Combined, those cuts would fundamentally weaken the the DEQ’s ability to protect public health and natural resources, since federal funds — mostly from the EPA — make up more than a quarter of DEQ’s budget in the 2017 fiscal year.

“We want Michigan residents to understand that the drastic budget cuts lawmakers are rushing to pass before summer break will mean less enforcement of the bedrock environmental standards that hold polluters accountable and protect our families from poisoned drinking water and dangerous air pollution,” said Chris Kolb, MEC president. “Failing to fund these essential programs will only cost us more down the road and put public health at risk in the meantime.”

Most notably, the House and Senate budgets do not address the fact that Clean Michigan Initiative funds, used to clean up hazardous sites in Michigan communities over the past decade, will no longer be available next year. By not replacing those funds, lawmakers are in effect cutting $14.9 million in cleanup funds for contamination that threatens drinking water supplies, our rivers and lakes, and the health of Michigan families.

Both chambers also cut Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposed $4.9 million to address the emerging threat of vapor intrusion, which occurs when poisonous gases enter buildings built on sites where contamination wasn’t cleaned up. Buildings in Michigan have been evacuated recently because of vapor intrusion and blood tests have found high levels of toxic chemicals in the blood of some people at those sites. The state estimates there are about 4,000 sites statewide at risk for vapor intrusion.

“These cuts aren’t just line items on budget documents, they are real threats to the health and safety of Michigan residents,” said Jeremy DeRoo, co-executive director of LINC UP, a community development organization in Grand Rapids working to educate and protect local residents from toxic vapor intrusion. “Our cities are facing many environmental risks that are now being exacerbated by these proposed budget cuts — everything from worrying about whether the water coming out of their taps is safe to drink to living everyday with air laced with toxic chemicals.  Now is the time to address these problems head-on.  Ignoring them won’t make them go away.”

The report also looks at the impact on Michigan communities of major cuts to federal environmental programs proposed by President Trump. It specifically looks at key projects funded by the federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, Superfund, Brownfield, and Sea Grant programs, which are at risk of losing funding under the president’s current budget proposal.

“Our analysis shows that the Legislature’s significant cuts to environmental programs will have direct impacts on the ability of local governments and organizations to protect public health and the natural resources that are vitally important for Michigan’s economy and quality of life,” said Julie Metty Bennett, senior vice president of Public Sector Consultants. “The report also serves to inform policymakers on the range of cuts proposed at the state and federal level, effectively causing a one-two punch to their ability to ensure Michigan’s environmental policy is carried out in a way that maintains their constituents’ expectations in recreation, economic activity, and public health.”

– See more at: http://lincup.org/news/reportmichigancommunitieswaterfacetwinassaultsfromenvironmentalbudgetcuts#sthash.AFsGptHJ.dpuf

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LINC UP, NAACP Greater Grand Rapids Branch and Micah Center: Police incident with youth must lead to change

unnamed (1).pngReposted from LINC UP

Take action! Click here to send an email to Chief Rahinsky of the Grand Rapids Police Department and Greg Sundstrom, City Manager of Grand Rapids to voice your concern.

On Friday, March 24th, Grand Rapids Police detained 5 innocent and unarmed children at gunpoint. Having viewed the body camera footage with the Grand Rapids Police Department, LINC, NAACP and the Micah Center feel the actions of the police officers involved demonstrate a practice of policing that perpetuates mistrust, instills fear and causes harm to residents that are supposed to be protected and served. Collectively, we are calling for a change in Grand Rapids policing practices to ensure that no other children will unnecessarily go through the traumatic experience that these children did, and that our community as a whole is not subjected to this type of racism. We call on the police to work with the parents to ensure that the issues that are raised about this particular incident are addressed to the families’ satisfaction.

In 2015 the community pushed the city to adopt a 12 point plan to begin improving community and police relations. One key component of the plan was to ensure body cameras were used by every police officer. These cameras have revealed the work of GR police officers in action. Although the tactical use of force deployed by officers was consistent with training and aligned with the policies of the department, it also reveals that such training and policies are not consistent with what the community is stating are acceptable policing practices. In essence, the historically strained relations between community and law enforcement are being perpetuated, and further action is needed to prevent a continuing decline in such relations.

We encourage all community members to attend the April 11 city commission meeting to support these 5 young boys and their families as they seek to get answers from GRPD and to express any other concerns for policing practices in Grand Rapids, particularly as they relate to interaction with the youth of our community.

We also ask the police department to update the community on the implementation of the 12-point plan and other efforts to improve relationships with the community. Specifically, the plan called for the adjustments to the structure of the police department to increase community interactions. We are asking the GRPD to outline how they have implemented those changes and how they are tracking the success of their community relations building efforts. The plan also called for the implementation of implicit bias testing; we are asking GRPD to update the community on the results of such testing, how they are tracking the results of the training and future plans to ensure its effectiveness.

Having viewed the body camera videos, it is the belief of LINC UP, the NAACP and Micah Center that this incident is an example of the systemic problems that contribute to racial disparities in Grand Rapids. The problems do not stem from any moral flaws of the officers involved but from systemic processes that perpetuate mistrust and fear between communities of color and institutions within Grand Rapids. As such we encourage all people to pay attention to this incident, learn from it and above all, change how we are acting to ensure that we can break that cycle of mistrust.

Sincerely,

LINC UP                 NAACP Greater Grand Rapids Branch               Micah Center

FREE Mobile Food Pantry at LINC

Thursday, July 23, 4 – 6pm @ the LINC Gallery, 341 Hall St. SE

LINC UP is collaborating with Feeding America West Michigan (FAWM) to host a FREE Mobile Food Pantry for  local community members this Thursday.The FAWM Mobile Pantry is like a farmer’s market on wheels, providing fruits, vegetables, dairy, bread, & dietary staples straight to the community.  Each pantry provides about three days’ worth of supplemental food for 100-200 people. In addition, LINC is looking for volunteers to help run the event.  If you are interested in helping out, please contact Willie at the phone or email below. Questions?  Contact Willie Patterson at 616.451.9140 or willie@lincrev.org