Whitmer’s lead for governor, calls for fire commissioner’s removal, food stamps: Your Thursday morning briefing

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gretchen Whitmer.

“Morning Briefing” is a new feature in Motor City Muckraker to keep you informed as we add award-winning reporters to our independent newsroom that soon will be a nonprofit watchdog. Your donations are key to our ability to produce more vigorous, meaningful, nonpartisan journalism at a time when news rooms are cutting back on impactful, investigative stories.

These are the top stories you’re waking up to:

Whitmer holds strong lead over Schuette for governor

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gretchen Whitmer is leading her Republican candidate, Bill Schuette, by 12 percentage points with five weeks before the election, according to a new Detroit News/WDIV poll.

The survey of 600 likely voters found that the former state lawmaker’s plans on roads, health care and education are resonating with voters.

Schuette, the state’s attorney general, has been endorsed by Trump, who is becoming increasingly unpopular in Michigan.

Of those surveyed, 13% were undecided.

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Union chief: Remove top Detroit fire official over no lights policy

Fire Commissioner Eric Jones. Photo by Steve Neavling.

The head of Detroit’s fire union is calling on Mayor Duggan to remove the city’s top fire official over a bizarre new policy that requires firefighters and medics to respond to some calls without lights and sirens.

“We want this stopped immediately,” Mike Nevin, president of the Detroit Fire Fighters Association, said during a press conference Wednesday. “We’ve got plenty of evidence that this new system is a failure.”

Nevin pointed to dozens of emergencies in which firefighters were dispatched under the new Code 2, which means first responders obey traffic laws and don’t use their lights or sirens because of perceived non-emergencies.

Nevin said the policy is yet another reason for the mayor to terminate Fire Commissioner Eric Jones, a former deputy police chief with a hot temper and no experience fighting fires.

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Nevin said the union is considering taking court action to end a policy that he said will have a “deadly impact.”

Applicants for food stamps must now be employed

If you want to sign up for food stamps, you better have a job.

That’s because the federal government is now requiring Michigan to stop providing monthly food allowances to unemployed people under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Unemployed residents who are receiving food assistance will be given three months after their annual review to prove they have a job.

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The federal government reinstated the job requirement now that the economy is bouncing back.

“MDHHS is prepared to assist affected individuals in meeting these work requirements so that they can achieve self-sufficiency,” said MDHHS Chief Deputy Director Nancy Vreibel. “The good news is that Michigan’s economy is much-improved, and the job market is far better than it was when the state received the federal waiver.”

But in Detroit, the nation’s most impoverished city, jobs remain scarce.

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Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.