City Pulse Celebrates 20 Years

What made headlines over the last two decades?

City Pulse celebrates 20 years of news coverage in Lansing

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The Capital City was home to about 5,000 more people back in August 2001. Malcolm X Street was still Main Street. Cesar Chavez Avenue was still Grand River Avenue. Boji Tower was still the Michigan National Bank Tower. REO Town — well, REO Town didn’t even really exist.

That summer, GM was only just ramping up operations at its Grand River assembly plant. Sparrow was still years away from building its 10-story tower on Michigan Avenue. The Ottawa Power Station, which was shut down only about a decade earlier, was still empty. The iconic triple stacks at the coal-powered Eckert Power Plant were still churning out smoke.

The Lansing Lugnuts had just wrapped up their fifth season. Eastern High School was still booming. Weed wasn’t yet legal for medical use, much less available on every street corner.

Biggby was Beaner’s. The railroad dining car had only recently opened at Clara’s Restaurant.

Gov. John Engler and former Lansing Mayor David Hollister were rounding off some of their last years in office. Mark Grebner was still only in his 20th year of serving on the Ingham County Board of Commissioners. Virg Bernero was only a first-term state representative. And on the warm summer morning of Wednesday, Aug. 15, City Pulse sent out its first print edition.

The “newspaper for the rest of us” launched with a simple stated mission: Fill a gap in informative news coverage by providing a journal of news and opinion on civic, social and political issues — as well as arts and events listings. And that same game plan has helped to guide City Pulse’s coverage now for 20 years and exactly 1,038 print editions this week.

As we celebrate the milestone and look forward to another two decades, we’re also looking back at some of the most momentous headlines in Greater Lansing from over the last 20 years: 

City Pulse printed its first issue less than a month before the 9/11 attacks.
City Pulse printed its first issue less than a month before the 9/11 attacks.
The historic Bethlehem Temple Church was opened as The Temple Club in 2001. Two decades later, it is being repurposed into residences.
The historic Bethlehem Temple Church was opened as The Temple Club in 2001. Two decades later, it is being repurposed into residences.

2001

A contentious City Council race between Geneva Smith and civil rights activist the Rev. Lester D. Stone to represent the Fourth Ward was picking up steam. Developers were looking at early plans to renovate the Bethlehem Temple Church in Old Town, as well as most of East Lansing.

Then, the world abruptly screeched to a halt as the World Trade Center towers crumbled and a militarization in the Middle East ensued. Several Muslims then told City Pulse that they had been forced to tread carefully, particularly in the wake of two off-campus shootings and several reports of verbal and physical abuse at Michigan State University. Fifteen women were also forced to strip in front of first responders over an anthrax scare on campus. 

The Temple Club opened. Smith defeated Stone. Hollister slid into his third term. City Pulse caricatured him on the cover of a November print edition as a king with a robe and scepter.  

The Michigan Vietnam Monument was unveiled west of the Capitol. The then-largest skatepark in Michigan — Ranney Park — was nearing completion. And to cap the year off, the Catholic Diocese of Lansing decided to ban a gay-themed play set for Catholic Central High School. 

Plans to build a gasoline pipeline through south Lansing sparked a citywide controversy.
Plans to build a gasoline pipeline through south Lansing sparked a citywide controversy.

2002

Opposition to war with Iraq continued to grow in Lansing A controversy ensued over worsening air pollution from GM plants. While the Lansing State Journal pushed for an early compromise that would have made the situation worse, City Pulse probed Hollister’s handling of the issue. 

That led to Hollister’s order to city staff not to speak to City Pulse over — an edict that was later reversed after the ACLU cautioned him it violated the 1st Amendment. 

Speaking of blackouts: The “Northeast Blackout” — as it would later become known — plunged Lansing and millions of people in Michigan and beyond into the dark for a week that summer.

Population loss was identified as a key problem in the Capital City after nearly 8,200 residents moved elsewhere between 1990 and 2000. Smokers across Lansing cried foul after the Ingham County Board of Commissioners voted to ban smoking in public and private workplaces.

Tensions also started to flare after Wolverine Pipe Line Co. announced plans to construct a highly controversial gasoline pipeline through south Lansing along the I-96 easement. 

Expansion continued on the Lansing River Trail — including a crucial new extension to MSU. East Lansing’s Hannah Community Center opened to the public after a $7 million renovation.

Former Lansing Councilman Lou Adado Jr. resigned in the face of a harassment lawsuit that alleged that he sent a staffer inappropriate emails and touched her “on the ass.” A total of 37 people applied to fill his slot; Saturnino Rodriguez was appointed to the job. 

City Pulse also sent a reporter to stay three nights at the City Rescue Mission as city officials counted nearly 600 homeless people living in Lansing. Then-Vice President Dick Cheney gave the keynote speech to MSU’s graduating class that summer. The forced resignation of top city executive Genice Rhodes-Reed triggered a firestorm of criticism from Black residents against Hollister over the sudden dismissals and alleged mistreatment of minority city employees. 

The State Journal launched a City Pulse-esque “Faux alt” weekly called NOISE that failed to catch on. Five gunshots tore into a crowd exiting Spiral Dance and Video in August, pushing its owner to pull the plug on hip-hop night after its eight-month run at the Old Town club. Lansing Community College became one of the first community colleges in the state to adopt same-sex domistic partner health benefits. Gov. Jennifer Granholm was elected in November.

Inspired by a famous cover of Ramparts magazine, City Pulse turned Condoleeza Rice into a cheerleader ahead of her commencement speech at MSU.
Inspired by a famous cover of Ramparts magazine, City Pulse turned Condoleeza Rice into a cheerleader ahead of her commencement speech at MSU.

2003

Hollister took a job with the new Granholm administration, elevating Council President Tony Benavides to the Mayor’s Office. He went on to defeat Bernero in November to fill the remaining two years of Hollister’s term. Future City Councilwoman Kathie Dunbar told City Pulse that Benavides’ campaign created a rumor that Bernero pulled his daughter out of Lansing schools for dating a Black teenager.

Council members Carol Wood and Joan Bauer were elected to their second and third terms. Harold Leeman Jr. was elected in the 1st Ward; Randy Williams was elected in the 3rd Ward.

An antiwar rally gathered a crowd of 2,000 people in Lansing. The City Council and the LCC Board of Trustees voted to oppose the war in Iraq, calling on President George Bush to pursue peaceful diplomacy. Hip-hop shows returned to the Temple Club — if only temporarily. 

Lansing paid out a $200,000 settlement to avoid litigation with the owners of the southside L.A. Globe nightclub, which was allegedly shut down because of its Black ownership. 

Reports showed that Black people only accounted for 6% of the business owners in the region. Even worse, less than 1% of businesses that contracted with Lansing were Black-owned.

A riot also broke out at MSU after the men’s basketball team lost to the University of Texas.

The term “REO Town” was coined in 2001 by the REO Town Commercial Association.
The term “REO Town” was coined in 2001 by the REO Town Commercial Association.

2004

The DARE program was canceled at Lansing schools. The sexual harassment lawsuit against Adado ended with a $200,000 settlement from the city of Lansing. LCC began $32 million in construction on several new buildings. A $41 million renovation began on the Boji Complex.

The Fleetwood Diner opened and immediately became a southside staple for its “Hippie Hash.”

The choice to bring in Condoleezza Rice as a graduation speaker at MSU garnered criticism.  

A campaign began to bring a grocery store to downtown Lansing. A homecoming celebration was hosted in REO Town following several major infrastructure fixes.

City Pulse’s Eyesore of the Week launched over the summer. The first feature: A boarded-up house at 912 W. Ionia St. between Marin Luther King Jr. and Butler boulevards, west of the State Capitol.

A top MSU official quit after Provost Lou Anna Simon was appointed as the university’s first female president.

City Pulse moved to an eastside office on Michigan Avenue after three years in Old Town. The last Oldsmobile rolled off the line at the Lansing plant.

Developer Pat Gillespie pitched three ambiguous downtown projects — the start of what would later become a long series of residential and commercial construction in the Stadium District.

A brutal attack at Eastern High School was reportedly an act of gay bashing. 

City Pulse snagged an exclusive interview with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in October. The city of Lansing also paid out another six-figure settlement following allegations that Police Officer Darren Duso had used his police status to persuade two women to have sex with him. 

Troppo opened its doors on the corner of Washington and Michigan avenues. A state bill once again greased the skids for the proposed Wolverine petroleum pipeline plan in South Lansing. An anti-same-sex-marriage amendment was passed by Michigan voters in November. 

Virg Bernero defeated former Lansing Mayor Tony Benavides in a contentious election in 2005.
Virg Bernero defeated former Lansing Mayor Tony Benavides in a contentious election in 2005.

2005

City officials began reviewing its sidewalk snow removal policies after a 7-year-old who was walking in the street was struck by a car on the side of Saginaw Street. Four women were fired from Okemos-based Weyco Inc. for smoking cigarettes on the clock, leading to an appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning, America.”

The Lansing School District moved to close five elementary schools, displacing more than 1,000 students. The UAW took to the streets in protest after Benavides sought $2.5 million in labor concessions. GM announced the closure of its Lansing Car Assembly plant at the end of May.

The city began working with the state to initiate a long-awaited redevelopment of the landmark Ottawa Power Station on the banks of the Grand River. East Lansing cops used hundreds of tear gas canisters, dozens of sting ball grenades and rubber bullets to break up raucous crowds of up to 2,000 people after the men’s basketball team lost in the Final Four to North Carolina.

Former Lansing Council Officer Manager Tina Gallante sued Lansing for $1.6 million over claims that multiple Council members had retaliated against her for being a whistleblower. 

The Board of Water & Light’s Chili Cookoff celebrated its 10th year at the Lansing Center.

Preuss Pets announced plans to move from Haslett to its current location in Old Town. 

Concerns resurface over hip-hop nights in Lansing after a 23-year-old was shot and killed.

A survey labeled Bernero as among the State Senate’s least effective lawmakers — perhaps attributed to his intense focus on his successful rematch with Benavides for mayor. He went on to earn a reputation as “America’s Angriest Mayor” with more insults to elected officials.

Councilman Larry Meyer resigned after it was discovered he no longer lived in the city. 

Chris Swope was elected to his first term as city clerk and Dunbar to her first term as Councilwoman alongside Brian Jeffries, Sandy Allen and Tim Kaltenbach — which notably composed an entirely white leadership roster of elected officials in the Capital City. Both Swope and Dunbar also made local history: Swope was the first openly gay man elected in Lansing. Dunbar was the city’s first openly bisexual leader to be elected to office. 

The neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement came to Lansing in 2006 for a rally at the Capitol.
The neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement came to Lansing in 2006 for a rally at the Capitol.

2006 

Expectations were high as Bernero was sworn in as mayor. The honeymoon between the Bernero administration and the City Council ended when Bernero called Council President Brian Jeffries a “pathetic piece of shit.” LCC President Paula Cunningham resigned following months of tensions between her and the newly elected Board of Trustees — namely after software issues led to 2,000 students losing their financial aid in 2005. 

Onondaga’s Highfields’ Youth Opportunity Camp closed after several complaints of staff abuse.

Ingham County commissioners signed onto a plan to take over the city-owned Potter Park Zoo, which was hit with several significant budget cuts and had the potential to lose its national accreditation. The cash-strapped Temple Club, a key venue for touring rock bands and other events, closed.

Bernero’s first budget proposed cutting 56 jobs and closing two of the city’s four golf courses — neither of which happened after the Council put up a two-month fight with the mayor. A petition drive that launched in August fell short of enough names to recall Bernero from office. CATA launched the “Entertainment Express” from downtown Lansing to East Lansing. Granholm kept her job in November. Bauer and former (and future) East Lansing Mayor Mark Meadows crushed their GOP opponents in state house races. Barb Byrum was elected to the legislature too.

The Council also amended a human rights ordinance crafted by Dunbar that prohibits discrimination against the LGBTQ community.

The controversial Young Americans for Freedom group at MSU, meanwhile, organized a “straight power” demonstration in Lansing to oppose the ordinance, one of the first in a long series of racist and offensive interactions that would make headlines over the next few years — and eventually land them on the hate group list from the Southern Poverty Law Center. 

The redevelopment of the City Market into a pole barn disappointed many residents in Lansing.
The redevelopment of the City Market into a pole barn disappointed many residents in Lansing.

2007

Derrick Quinney was appointed to the City Council vacancy created by Bauer’s election to the state House.

Creole Gallery owner Robert Busby was murdered by a handyman, who later killed himself. In August, Lansing cops also found the beaten body of 46-year-old Debra Renfors — the third woman to be bludgeoned to death in two weeks by serial killer Matthew Macon. Macon was convicted of the two murders and confessed to killing Carol Wood’s mother, Ruth Hallman.

The events that unfolded that summer would be described as Lansing’s “Summer or Terror.” In response, Bernero mounted a controversial campaign to install $350,000 in security cameras. 

The Wharton Center announced plans for an $11 million expansion on its 26th birthday. Concepts were finalized for $182 million investment in what would become the future headquarters for the Accident Fund insurance company. Gillespie rolled out plans to bring housing, dining, offices and a new City Market to the ever-expanding Stadium District.

Wood and Quinney were reelected to the City Council, joined by newcomers Eric Hewitt and A’Lynne Robinson. 

Early plans began to form in November to construct a permanent amphitheater at Adado Park — a concept that would continue to start and stall for the next 14 years without much progress. 

Predatory lending practices plummeted Lansing (and the country) into a housing crisis in 2008.
Predatory lending practices plummeted Lansing (and the country) into a housing crisis in 2008.

2008

MSU unveiled the winning design for the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, endowed by what was then the biggest gift in the university’s history. Barack Obama visited Lansing and spoke to 2,000 people at the Lansing Center ahead of what became a historic election in November. 

Voters also approved the legalization of medical marijuana in Michigan by a margin of 63%.

As the housing crisis hit Lansing, City Pulse sent a reporter to two Ingham County foreclosure auctions, where a record-breaking 35 to 60 homes were being auctioned off about every week. 

James Rutter resigned as associate superintendent at the Lansing School District “for personal reasons” shortly after City Pulse had provided two documents to the school system that showed Rutter repeatedly plagiarized and signed his name on nationally circulated education articles. 

Bernero apologized to a Councilman for calling him a “motherfucking idiot,” among other things. City plans resurfaced (and quickly fell apart) for a performing arts center to be built in Lansing. 

East Lansing cops arrested 52 people — including 28 students — after raucous crowds started to throw bottles at police officers and set several dumpster fires at the return of Cedar Fest. City Pulse launched its Top of the Town Awards in Lansing, which go on to become an annual hit.

Councilwoman Carol Wood ran an unsuccessful mayoral campaign against Bernero in 2009.
Councilwoman Carol Wood ran an unsuccessful mayoral campaign against Bernero in 2009.

2009

Obama took office. The rulemaking process for medical marijuana in Michigan was off to a rocky start. City Pulse quickly planted its flag on leading the coverage with a weekly weed journal. Wood announced plans to challenge Bernero in the November mayoral election.

Concerns over the H1N1 virus dominated headlines, as well as prompted some local concern. 

Several development projects folded under an economic downturn, including The Lenawee, Capitol Club Tower, Ball Park, City Center Studios, Lansing Gateway, Sobi Square and Market Place. Bernero defeated Wood in a landslide for a second term as mayor in Lansing. Jessica Yorko was elected to the Council in the Fourth Ward. Dunbar was picked for a second term. 

The new City Market also neared completion. For some, it was a disappointing “pole barn.”

Thousands of people arrived at the Capitol for a Tea Party rally in 2010.
Thousands of people arrived at the Capitol for a Tea Party rally in 2010.

The renovation of the Ottawa Street Power Station made big news in Lansing.
The renovation of the Ottawa Street Power Station made big news in Lansing.

2010

More than 5,000 people attended a Tea Party rally at the Capitol steps. A history of LGBTQ nightlife published in City Pulse showed that Lansing’s gay bar scene has never been stronger. Dozens of pot shops started to crop up across Lansing, largely operating in a legally gray area. 

BWL scrapped a concept to build a $1 billion coal plant and announced a three-year plan to construct a $182 million natural gas-powered co-generating plant lin REO Town. 

Construction officially started on the Broad Museum at MSU with plans for a 2012 opening. Plans were also announced for a restoration of the Knapp’s building in downtown Lansing. The Ottawa Street Power Station renovation was inching closer to completion. And bars and restaurants changed forever after a statewide indoor cigarette smoking ban took effect in May.

A joint investigation between City Pulse and WLNS revealed that at least four appointees to city boards and commissions had violated charter requirements, making them ineligible to serve. 

After assuring voters in 2009 that he was not interested in a gubernatorial race, Bernero launches a bid for governor and goes on to crush primary challenger Andy Dillon by about 90,000 votes. Gov. Rick Snyder sailed past him with 58% of the general election vote. That same year, Bernero also “groped” a woman downtown, according to recent accusations. 

Main Street was renamed Malcolm X Street. Drain Commissioner Pat Lindemann offered City Pulse his first glimpse into what would eventually become the ongoing Montgomery Drain project to help reduce pollution along the Red Cedar River near the Frandor Shopping Center. 

In 2011, City Pulse featured the redevelopment of the Ottawa Power Station. It was one of its largest print editions.
In 2011, City Pulse featured the redevelopment of the Ottawa Power Station. It was one of its largest print editions.

2011

City Pulse published one of its biggest print issues to date, a 52-pager featuring “Phoenix Risen,” a 28-page section on the completed restoration of the Ottawa Street Power Station. A defeated millage request led to widespread layoffs of Lansing cops and firefighters. GM announced plans to invest $190 million at the Grand River Assembly Plant in Lansing. 

Neighbors rallied for another grocery store to move into the Colonial Village Shopping Center. And it looks like they’ll have to do so again after Valuland switched to nonperishable goods only.

In August, City Pulse celebrated its 10th year of publication. Bernero opined: “Can we survive ten more years of Berl Schwartz’s occasionally peculiar brand of public punditry?” The answer: Yes. City Pulse can survive, though it turned out 10 more years of Bernero would be far too much. He’s in public purgatory after several sexual harassment claims surfaced in 2021.

Plans to build a casino in Lansing during the Bernero administration never came to fruition.
Plans to build a casino in Lansing during the Bernero administration never came to fruition.

2012

Thousands converged on Lansing to protest right-to-work legislation. Lansing earned a spot in the FBI’s list of top five most dangerous cities in Michigan. Production of the Cadillac ATS began. The Camaro was soon to be en route. Gymnast Jordyn Webber, of Dewitt, led the U.S. Olympic team to gold. Bernero received some criticism after he called a tribal spokesperson “Chief Chicken Little” at a fundraising event. The Broad Art Museum opened in November. 

Seven local men were sentenced for their role in a pot growing operation in 2007.
Seven local men were sentenced for their role in a pot growing operation in 2007.

2013

Delta, Delhi and Meridian townships joined Lansing and East Lansing with ordinances barring discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodation based on sexual orientation. 

And with another year, another batch of victims in the war on drugs. Seven local men — who later became known as the “Okemos 7” — were sentenced for their role in a pot growing operation. Among them: Ryan Basore, who went on to launch the Redemption Cannabis brand.

Following a City Pulse story about disorganization at the Lansing Police Department, Bernero created a new police position dedicated to solving cold cases in the city. He would go on to be elected in November to his third and final term, with no plans to seek re-election in 2017. Whole Foods announced plans to open in Meridian Township. Niowave Inc. broke ground on a $10 million expansion in Lansing’s Walnut Neighborhood to much fanfare — though not too much of it came from the neighborhood itself: The expansion included the much criticized “pole barn” building, first reported by City Pulse. BWL opened a natural gas plant in REO Town.

MSU defeated Ohio State University. Dozens were arrested for setting fires in East Lansing. 

Nearly 40,000 residents lost power for more than a week after an ice storm gripped the region. BWL executive Peter Lark faced criticism for the handling of the situation — particularly for vacationing in New York during the crisis. And though Bernero stood in his defense, he would go on to pressure board members to fire him. That shift resulted in a controversial, taxpayer-funded severance payout valued at about $650,000. 

A major court ruling gave rise to hundreds of same-sex weddings in Lansing in 2014.
A major court ruling gave rise to hundreds of same-sex weddings in Lansing in 2014.

2014

BWL officials scrambled to trim trees and implement policy changes to prevent another blackout in Lansing. Hundreds of local gay couples got hitched after a major Court of Appeals ruling. MSU began construction on its nearly $1 billion Facility for Rare Isotope Beams in East Lansing. The Knapp’s Centre finally opened after about $36 million in renovations in November. 

The Supreme Court also sided in favor of marriage equality in a historic ruling in 2015.
The Supreme Court also sided in favor of marriage equality in a historic ruling in 2015.

2015

Same-sex marriages continued locally after a historic ruling in the Supreme Court. Camaros pour out of GM’s Grand River Assembly Plant. Developers broke ground at the former Story Oldsmobile property near Frandor on what would become one of the ugliest buildings in Lansing: SkyVue. Gillespie announced plans for the East Town Flats. Behind the scenes, developers were working on a “groundbreaking” project at the former Red Cedar Golf Course 

Dick Peffley took over as BWL manager after Lark’s firing. He remains in the position today.

Lansing had tallied more than 600 homeless people living in Lansing in the mid 2010s.
Lansing had tallied more than 600 homeless people living in Lansing in the mid 2010s.

2016

City Attorney Janine McIntyre left Lansing with a $160,000 golden parachute without much explanation. Even to this day, we still don’t know all the details over why her attorney had threatened a sexual harassment lawsuit days before that payout. 

Disgraced MSU sports doctor Larry Nassar first faced several charges in Ingham County in what would eventually become one of the most sickening criminal cases in U.S. history. Dozens of women spoke out against him, leading to a powerful and lasting empowerment movement.

Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III was also hit with dozens of criminal charges after news broke that he had allegedly coerced women into sex. He resigned in July, future Gov. Gretchen Whitmer took over the job and Dunnings was sentenced to a year behind bars.

Progressive Democrat Carol Siemon was elected prosecutor in November. President Donald Trump also took the state (and the presidency) following multiple trips to Michigan — including a stop in Dimondale. His election triggered a wave of bigotry that still permeates the country.

In Lansing, a “housing emergency,” as Bernero called it, triggered by the eviction of Homeless Angels, threatened to displace nearly 100 people before an anonymous donation saved the day. BWL paid out a $25,000 ransom to hackers who had essentially hijacked their internal networks. 

Lansing Mayor Andy Schor defeated challenger Judi Brown Clarke by a landslide in 2017.
Lansing Mayor Andy Schor defeated challenger Judi Brown Clarke by a landslide in 2017.

2017

Nassar pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting women under the guise of medical treatment and MSU became embroiled in a lasting scandal over which top officials knew what — and when. 

Bernero stepped away from the Mayor’s Office to focus on struggles with his marriage. Mayor Andy Schor was elected, defeating Olympic Silver Medalist Judi Brown Clarke with 72% of the vote. Prior to the election, City Pulse took some heat from Clarke over the dark color of her skin in a cover illustration. A printing error had caused her and others to appear slightly darker than intended. 

Since its inception in 2001, City Pulse has always kept a close watch on sustainability efforts.
Since its inception in 2001, City Pulse has always kept a close watch on sustainability efforts.

2018

Proposal One passed, enabling legal possession and adult use of marijuana following several dogged years of advocacy efforts across the nation. Nassar was sentenced to 40-175 years in prison for sexual assault involving hundreds of women and girls. The same day, Simon resigned as university president and was later charged with lying to cops. Former Republican Gov. John Engler replaced her in a move orchestrated by Trustee Joel Ferguson.

A portion of Grand River Avenue was renamed by city officials to memorialize Cesar Chavez.

Development boomed across the Capital City with plans announced for a grocery store connected to a new hotel on Michigan Avenue. City officials sold the Red Cedar and Waverly golf courses for developments that are still being built. Discussions began (and ultimately stalled) over consolidating 54A and 54B district courts in Lansing and East Lansing.

A recall election at Williamston Community Schools stripped the district of its board president and ignited a community debate over policies to protect transgender students. Electric scooter rentals took Lansing by force. Waterfront Bar & Grill was booted from the old City Market.

Ingham County launched a Public Defender’s Office and appointed Russel Church to the helm. Gretchen Whitmer was elected, bringing a Democrat back to the Governor’s Office. And Lugnuts owner Tom Dickson announced the formation of the Lansing Ignite soccer team.

The Democrats regained the 8th Congressional District seat held by Republicans since 2001 with the upset election of Elissa Slotkin.

Development in Greater Lansing during 2019 — especially near Michigan State University.
Development in Greater Lansing during 2019 — especially near Michigan State University.

Former Gov. John Engler was portrayed as a pig in a cover story after his resignation at MSU.
Former Gov. John Engler was portrayed as a pig in a cover story after his resignation at MSU.

2019

More apartments popped up in East Lansing — including the Center City District and the Hub, a 10-story mixed-use building on the corner of Grand River Avenue and Bogue Street. Another developer announced plans to renovate the historic temple in Old Town. McLaren laid the groundwork on a $450 million hospital on the edge of MSU’s campus. Eastern High School closed its 101-year-old building and handed over the keys to Sparrow. 

Slotkin voted to impeach Trump. Councilman Brandon Betz defeated Jody Washington in the First Ward. Lansing officers sparked a citywide controversy after video footage surfaced that showed a cop repeatedly striking a teenage girl who resisted arrest.

Sparrow failed a key accreditation inspection and subsequent reports revealed scores of deficiencies at the hospital. Those were ultimately corrected after another inspection, but not before staff quietly removed all copies of City Pulse from its hospital and Michigan Athletic Club that covered the issues. Engler resigned as president of MSU after making insensitive statements about Nassar victims. 

Black firefighter Michael Lynn Jr. filed a racial discrimination suit against the city. The Lansing Ignite folded after its inaugural season. And after a lengthy dispute with the Waterfront Bar & Grill, the former City Market was vacated.

A reckless driver plowed over Lansing’s red holiday ornaments in the downtown roundabout, but they were quickly replaced through a last-minute $7,000 donation from a local businessman.

A community fight erupted over BWL’s plan to tear down a historic house and relocate a sunken garden to make room for a power station. BWL won. 

The pandemic dominated headlines after the COVID-19 virus arrived in Michigan in March.
The pandemic dominated headlines after the COVID-19 virus arrived in Michigan in March.

2020

Homegrown Cannabis Co. made history as the first recreational pot shop to open in Lansing. 

The coronavirus also arrived locally, and along with it Lansing’s most violent year on record with 21 homicides. George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis also ignited a nationwide uprising against police brutality and the disproportionate rate in which police systematically target, ticket and kill people of color. Lansing was no exception to the fervor. A May 31 protest in downtown Lansing ended with a torched car downtown and canisters of tear gas deployed to break up the crowds.

Black Lives Matter called for Schor to resign. Anthony Hulon was killed by four officers beneath City Hall. In one of the least transparent moments of Schor’s administration, officials pointed to “medical complications” to explain his death when county records had labeled it a homicide. Attempts to reduce funding to the Police Department ended with a budget increase — and two in-house social workers embedded at both the Lansing and East Lansing police departments. 

Greater Lansing joined America in blocking Trump from a second term. Peter Spadafore was elected as City Council president. East Lansing Mayor Ruth Beier and Councilman Mark Meadows resigned. Commissioner Thomas Morgan was taken out in the primary by Bob Pena. Former Commissioner Carol Koenig was also installed as judge in the 30th Circuit Court. Ferguson, besmirched by his support for Engler and his own insensitivity to Nassar victims, was forced off the MSU Board of Trustees by the Democratic Party.

Dozens of businesses closed amid the pandemic. Capitol City Market opened in the fall. Across the street, the City Rescue Mission announced plans to expand its men’s shelter. Schor also announced plans to revitalize the City Market with a new shuffleboard and social club concept.

The controversial Red Cedar project also secured its final round of state financing, and plans were once again underway to redevelop the Bethlehem Temple Building into the Temple Lofts.

City leaders pushed forward with plans to reduce Lansing’s carbon footprint. Joan Jackson Johnson, former department director of Human Relations and Community Services retired after being ousted by the Schor administration for alleged financial improprieties — none of which have actually netted any criminal charges amid a yearlong federal investigation. All told, at least a dozen city officials (either by will or force) have departed Schor’s administration. 

An eleventh-hour compromise with the Schor administration allowed city retirees to escape any “long-term cost increases” while also saving the city about $3.5 million annually in legacy costs. Schor continued to defend himself from several allegations of racism following recent lawsuits — mostly from Black former firefighters who alleged that they had been discriminated against. 

President Joe Biden’s election didn’t do much to curb conspiracy theories over election fraud.
President Joe Biden’s election didn’t do much to curb conspiracy theories over election fraud.

2021

It’s already another big year for news at City Pulse. Misinformation spewed from Trump supporters who opposed “election fraud” at the State Capitol. Meridian Township revived its plans for recreational pot shops. The city of Lansing tried to shut down a longstanding encampment of homeless people off Larch Street. Schor is still trying to jumpstart plans to rebuild City Hall — a plan that he inherited from Bernero that has stalled for several years. 

More social workers and cops are headed to the Police Department after yearlong efforts to “defund” law enforcement collapsed at City Hall.

Schor was caught cutting the line for an early dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. City Pulse was also among the first to report allegations of sexual harassment against Vanguard Public Affairs CEO TJ Bucholz, as well as claims against Bernero that pushed him out of the mayoral race. Dunbar ran ahead of Patricia Spitzley and three other contenders in the primary election to be pitted against Schor for mayor in the General Election.

Supporters also turned on Betz after he sent a series of profane text messages to a local activist. Multiple reports also revealed that racial inequities have continued to plague Greater Lansing — evidenced in part by a series of ongoing discrimination lawsuits against the city administration.

Plenty more pot shops have also opened in the city — nearly all of which have been featured in City Pulse’s “Lansterdam in Review” column, which has been published weekly since last July.

What’s our next story? You tell us. Call Managing Editor Kyle Kaminski at 517-999-6710. 

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