My name is Asya Lawrence and I am a junior at Michigan State University. I am studying broadcast journalism with the hopes of becoming a news reporter/anchor. My hometown is Southfield, Michigan and my hobbies include writing, music and traveling.
President-elect Joe Biden’s main goal in The Biden Plan is to stem climate change by reaching by 2050 carbon neutrality, which means emissions released are offset by being absorbed by an equivalent amount from the atmosphere.
To help achieve this goal, the President-elect aims to have U.S. electricity production carbon-free by 2035. “It’s attainable, yes, I think it is, but there are many prohibiting factors that could prevent it from happening,” said Bruno Takahashi, a research director at MSU’s Knight Center of Environmental Journalism and associate professor in the School of Journalism. A prohibiting factor could be Congress should it become Republican-controlled. Next month, the country will find out the Georgia Senate runoff results, determining party control. Despite the prospect of future administrations reversing the advancements Biden will potentially make, Takahashi is optimistic that the carbon-free goal is still attainable by 2050.
Photo of 4700 South Hagadorn Rd. in Meridian Township where Wayfair planned to set up its call center. Credit: Asya Lawrence
Although Wayfair, an online store for furniture, decor, housewares and more, was not clear about why exactly they changed their minds about opening a call center in Meridian Township on South Hagadorn Road, city officials speculate it was due to COVID-19.
“They did not say exactly what the reason was, but they let us know as soon as they knew that they were not looking for long-term locations,” said Amber Clark, Meridian Township’s Neighborhood and Economic Development Director.
“Like other organizations due to the Covid-19 crisis they aren’t looking for in person locations, that’s our speculation,” said Frank Walsh, Township Manager, who explained that though this decision came as a surprise, it was expected. “We were surprised, but we also had our doubts once Covid-19 hit five or six months ago. We could see that it was going to be easier and safer for people to work out of their homes rather than putting 500 people in the building.”
“Although the news is devastating, we certainly understand it’s a safety and health issue here,” Walsh said.
Absentee voter putting his ballot in the Election Drop Box outside Lansing City Hall. Credit: Asya Lawrence
Because absentee ballots doubled compared to the 2016 presidential election, Ingham County’s counting board is critical to this election. This county board is made up of county residents who will process and account for each ballot.
Absent Voter Counting Board
An absent voter counting board or AVCB is a separate group of inspectors who process absentee ballots in designated locations with their own tabulators.
The AVCB handles large numbers of absentee ballots said Ingham County Clerk, Barb Byrum. She said changes have been made this year in terms of operating the counting boards.
Typically, absentee counting boards usually occur at the local level at the city and township clerk’s office; however, the Governor signed Public Act 95 of 2020 that allows for a consolidated county absentee counting board, said Byrum.
Need for an AVCB due to high volume of absentee ballots
Michiganders are choosing to avoid physically going to the polls and are voting via absentee ballot instead.
Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson recently announced that over 2.7 million voters have requested an absentee ballot. Compared to the 2016 presidential race, there has been a 145% increase in requests of mail-in ballots, according to The Detroit News.
Clerk Byrum explained the county has received 60,771 absentee ballots.
Meridian Township PD Facebook pageMeridian Township’s police department responds via phone or in-person to complaints about residents not wearing masks and hosting large gatherings. Meridian Township Police protocol
To enforce Governor Whitmer’s executive order that mandates masks and restricts gatherings, the Meridian Township Police Department has been playing their part to ensure citizens follow protocol.
Ken Plaga, Meridian Township Police Chief, the department is doing complaint-based visits. “If somebody calls with a concern with somebody not following the Governor’s order, not wearing a mask or having a gathering that is too large we will send officers out to conduct an investigation,” said Ken Plaga. “Our goal is not to issue citations or seek criminal charges but we’ve been fortunate to receive compliance from most people that we come in contact with,” he said. Changes within the Police Department
COVID-19 has also changed the way the Meridian Township PD operates.