Southwest Michigan Today: Friday April 19, 2019

Apr 19, 2019

A report finds a possible shortage of staff at the Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital. The Catholic Diocese of Kalamazoo warns that a former employee may be committing immigration fraud. An Upper Peninsula university offers a degree in cannabis business.

Michigan’s Auditor General has issued a report that finds a possible shortage of direct care staff at the Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital. Two Democratic lawmakers , state Representative Jon Hoadley of Kalamazoo and state Senator Winnie Brinks of Grand Rapids requested the report. A letter from state Auditor General Doug Ringler says from 2016 to 2018 there were 160 injuries to patients requiring medical care. The report also examined the hours and amount of overtime hospital staff worked. In a statement, Hoadley says the report is a reminder that when medical professionals are overworked and understaffed, patients suffer. Correction: This story has been edited to correctly identify Winnie Brinks as a state Senator. 

(MPRN) The leader of the state Senate Republicans says he’s not in favor of the Secretary of State’s call for candidates to disclose their financial information. Last month, Jocelyn Benson said she wants the Legislature to pass bills that would require elected officials to disclose any outside income, investments, travel or gifts they got as candidates or after they were elected. Senate Majority Leader, Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) has the final say on what the bills the chamber votes on. He said he’s not on board because it would create a big disincentive for people considering running for office. Over in the House, a spokesman for Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering), Gideon D’Assandro said Chatfield is, “Open to it in concept,” but hasn’t seen a specific proposal. Benson responded to Shirkey’s comments in a statement.

“For Michiganders to have confidence that their elected leaders are acting in their best interests, residents must know who, if anyone, may be influencing decisions behind closed doors,” she said. “Any aspiring public servant should be willing to adhere to basic expectations of transparency and accountability.”

The Catholic Diocese of Kalamazoo says one of its former employees may be committing immigration fraud. The diocese announced Thursday that it’s working with Kalamazoo Public Safety officials on the case. Church officials say they're trying to find people who may have paid for immigration counseling services but never got them. Because of the problem, the diocese says it has stopped offering immigration services at its office in Hartford. They're now only available at the main office on Westnedge Avenue in Kalamazoo.

(WCMU) Governor Gretchen Whitmer and a bipartisan group of lawmakers unveiled bills to help Michigan residents afford higher education and training programs. The initiatives were part of the Governor’s proposed budget, released in March. They include a program for tuition assistance at community college or university and a separate program that would make skill training programs free. The legislation has bipartisan support in both the House and Senate.

(WNMU) An Upper Peninsula university is taking advantage of the state’s legalization of marijuana by offering a cannabis business degree. Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie will offer the bachelor’s degree starting this fall. President Rod Hanley says it aims to give students the knowledge to participate in marijuana-related industry. Hanley says the proximity of Canada, which is just a bridge span away in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, was another factor in the decision to offer the degree. Canada legalized marijuana last October.

(Battle Creek Enquirer) The city of Battle Creek is working to remove lead water pipes The Battle Creek Enquirer reports that city officials believe there are about 46-hundred lead service lines in Battle Creek. Michigan’s new lead and copper rules give water suppliers 20 years to remove all lead service lines. Utilities pay for the cost of replacement.

(Michigan Radio) A man convicted of stabbing a Flint airport police officer will likely spend the rest of his life in prison. A federal judge sentenced Amor Ftouhi to consecutive life terms yesterday. Before he was sentenced Ftouhi told the court he regretted not killing the police officer in 2017.