State Roundup

Grand Rapids
Court: Ex- daycar­e provider must pay back $370,000

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — An appeals court says a former daycare provider must pay more than $370,000 for billing the state for childcare services she never rendered.

The Grand Rapids Press reports Monica Onette Robinson operated A Precious Creation daycare in Grand Rapids until the state shut it down.

Authorities say Robinson billed the Michigan Department of Human Services. According to court records, investigators found she sometimes billed for an entire day when there were no children at the daycare center that had a maximum capacity of 21.

State investigators believe about 153,000 hours were falsely reported.

Robinson was charged with multiple welfare fraud counts. She pleaded no contest to one count and received a six month jail sentence.

Robinson appealed the restitution amount. The state Court of Appeals recently upheld the amount.

City gets more than $1.4M for  anti-crime work

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — Flint is getting more than $1.4 million for planning and anti-crime fighting work.

The City of Flint and the Flint Police Foundation on Monday announced the funding from the Ruth Mott Foundation.

The grants include $320,000 for the Imagine Flint Neighborhood Planning Initiative and nearly $1.1 million for the North End Community Crime Strategy. The strategy targets changes in community infrastructure, culture and physical environment in order to reduce crime.

Both of the programs are focused on North Flint, an area recently identified by the foundation as a new focus for its philanthropic mission.

The grant funding periods run through 2017 for the Neighborhood Planning Initiative and through 2018 for the North End Community Crime Strategy.

Suit over water trouble seeks compensation

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — A federal lawsuit says Flint's water problems are due to the negligence of state and local officials.

Several families sued last week in Detroit. The Detroit Free Press reports they say they've suffered a range of medical conditions from the water. The lawsuit seeks compensation, a medical monitoring fund and more oversight of Flint's water system.
The Detroit News reports it seeks class-action status, naming more than a dozen city and state officials.

Flint switched from Detroit's water system last year to Flint River water in a cost-cutting move while under state emergency financial management. Officials maintained the water met safety standards, but children were found to have elevated blood-lead levels.

On Monday, groups including the Natural Resources Defense Council and the ACLU said they'll sue if issues aren't resolved.

Advocacy group plans ‘Sunshine Squad’ campaign

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Liberal advocacy group Progress Michigan is planning a "Sunshine Squad" campaign that aims to make the Michigan legislature more accountable.

The group says a new website is part of the effort, which seeks to improve ethics and transparency at the state government level.

The website features current members of the Michigan legislature broken down by committee assignment and House or Senate district. Each legislator-specific page features committee assignments and searchable financial contributions so residents can examine donations.

The financial and committee information continues efforts that Progress Michigan began when the legislature was discussing auto no-fault insurance.

Bashara talks bondage lifestyle seeking new trial

DETROIT (AP) — A Detroit-area man convicted of having his wife killed says he never planned to leave her in favor of his bondage and domination lifestyle.

Bob Bashara testified Friday that if Jane Bashara "was not brutally murdered," he "probably would still be in the lifestyle."

The 57-year-old Bob Bashara was sentenced to life in prison after a jury convicted him of first-degree murder in the 2012 death of his wife.

Prosecutors say he coerced handyman Joe Gentz into strangling Jane Bashara at the couple's Grosse Pointe Park home. Gentz is in prison for second-degree murder.

Bashara says his rights were violated by an ineffective defense. He is seeking a new trial. His hearing resumes Dec. 3 in Wayne County Circuit Court.