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Southwest Michigan Today: Tuesday July 30, 2019

Portage City Hall - file photo by WMUK

Two nights of debates begin in Detroit for Democrats running for President. Only incumbents are on the ballot for Portage City Council and Mayor. Elevated levels of lead are found in Benton Harbor’s water. 

(MPRN) 20 Democratic presidential candidates are about to converge on Michigan for two nights of debates in Detroit. Governor Gretchen Whitmer will be on hand to greet the candidates. Whitmer says she’s already spoken with most of them. And she says her advice is, don’t take the industrial Midwest or the state of Michigan for granted in the primary or next year’s general election. Whitmer says that means candidates have to show up with plans for economic security, job training, and ensuring clean water. She says showing who is the most angry with Republican President Donald Trump won’t be enough.

(Michigan Radio) One of the candidates who will be on stage for the debate in Detroit Wednesday night was in Flint Monday. Washington Governor Jay Inslee talked with people about the city’s drinking water. Inslee is the latest Democratic presidential contender to visit Flint.

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer says it's spinning off its off-patent division called "Upjohn." If shareholders and regulators approve, it would merge with generic drug-maker Mylan. That's the company that failed to take over Allegan-based Perrigo in 2015. It's come under fire recently for steep increases in the price of "epi-pens" used by people with severe allergies. Pfizer got the rights to use the Upjohn name when it bought out Pharmacia. It bought Kalamazoo-based Upjohn in 1995.

There won't be any challengers on the city council ballot in Portage this fall. Only current Council members Chris Burns, Richard Ford, and Jim Pearson met last week's filing deadline. So did Portage Mayor Patricia Randall, who also faces no opposition in November. It is still possible though for people to enter the race as a registered write-in candidate.

Benton Harbor city officials say elevated levels of lead in water have been found in the latest round of testing. The testing has been conducted in the city since October of last year. A news release from the city says water samples taken from 47 Benton Harbor residences showed lead levels above the action level of 15 parts per billion. City officials say homes with a child or a pregnant woman should have a certified filter to remove lead from the water. Filters are available for people who can’t afford them through the Berrien County Health Department.

(MPRN) The Michigan Supreme Court says a judge sentencing a defendant for a criminal matter cannot base the sentence on crimes the defendant was acquitted of. The issue came up when a defendant was charged with multiple crimes – including murder. He was acquitted of murder, but he was found guilty of other crimes. The sentencing judge said he believed there was enough evidence to show the defendant was guilty of murder – and used that when sentencing the defendant for much more time than normal. The Michigan Supreme Court says that’s not OK. It says that would violate the person’s right to due process. Three of the seven justices disagreed.