Opinion http://michiganradio.org en Randy Richardville will be forced to leave right when he's hitting his stride as a leader http://michiganradio.org/post/randy-richardville-will-be-forced-leave-right-when-hes-hitting-his-stride-leader <p></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Michigan Senate Majority Leader Randy </span>Richardville<span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;"> will be out of a job in less than six months, thanks to term limits.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">This means his career in elected politics may be over.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">And I am beginning to be sorry about that. In the last few months, Richardville, a former Monroe businessman, has evolved into a leader capable of looking beyond a narrow partisan agenda.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">The roads are one example.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">In past years, he virtually sneered at Governor Snyder’s call for the Legislature to appropriate billions to fix our crumbling roads. This spring, Richardville switched, came up with a creative plan to finance long-term road repair, and made a valiant, if failed effort, to get it through the Legislature.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">He said this was because all he heard from his constituents was “just fix the damn roads.” That may be true, but he did see the light when other members of his caucus were bizarrely talking about trying to push through another tax cut instead.</span></p><p> Fri, 11 Jul 2014 14:14:40 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 18341 at http://michiganradio.org Randy Richardville will be forced to leave right when he's hitting his stride as a leader Michigan's gerrymandered 11th District is about to have an interesting election http://michiganradio.org/post/michigans-gerrymandered-11th-district-about-have-interesting-election <p></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); line-height: normal; font-family: arial; font-size: small;">There’s been a lot of attention paid to Michigan’s bizarrely gerrymandered </span>14th<span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); line-height: normal; font-family: arial; font-size: small;"> Congressional District, drawn to pack as many Democrats as possible together.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); line-height: normal; font-family: arial; font-size: small;">But there has been even more strangeness in its mirror image to the left, the 11th District, similarly designed for Republicans. Shaped something like an irregular claw, the 11th begins with Birmingham and Troy in the east and arcs over to take in Milford and Novi in the west and Livonia and Canton in the South.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); line-height: normal; font-family: arial; font-size: small;">This was meant to be GOP territory. But it is not nearly as Republican as the 14th is Democratic. President Obama carried it once, and some think it could send a Democrat to Congress. And it hasn’t been short of controversy.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); line-height: normal; font-family: arial; font-size: small;">Two years ago, longtime Congressman Thaddeus McCotter’s career ended after his staff filed fraudulent ballot petition signatures.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); line-height: normal; font-family: arial; font-size: small;">That left Republicans with Kerry Bentivolio, a Tea Party supporting reindeer farmer. He won and is trying for a second term.</span></p><p> Thu, 10 Jul 2014 16:05:39 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 18326 at http://michiganradio.org Michigan's gerrymandered 11th District is about to have an interesting election MI Supreme Court's ruling on juvenile lifers is stupid, expensive and will be overturned http://michiganradio.org/post/mi-supreme-courts-ruling-juvenile-lifers-stupid-expensive-and-will-be-overturned <p></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">T</span><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">here is a long-established principle that whenever state law conflicts with a federal law, the federal law prevails. That’s been established by a long string of U.S. Supreme Court decisions, plus a little event called the Civil War. &nbsp;</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">This is why, for example, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes could rule that the pensions of Detroit city workers and retirees could be cut, even though Michigan’s state constitution says they can’t be. Federal bankruptcy law prevails.</span><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;" /><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;" /><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">If this weren’t the case, it would mean that anything Congress or the U.S. Supreme Court did could be overruled by any state legislature, and our nation would become no more than a collection of 50 countries united in name only.</span><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;" /><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;" /><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">That’s something we all learned in civics class -- which makes the Michigan Supreme Court’s decision yesterday on life sentences for minors completely baffling</span>.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;" /><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;" /><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Two years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it was unconstitutional to automatically sentence juveniles to life without the possibility of parole. However, some politicians who want to be seen as tough on crime, claimed this decision was not retroactive.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">And yesterday, in a four to three vote, the Michigan Supreme Court agreed with them. The justices ruled that minors who were sentenced in Michigan to life without the possibility of parole still have no chance of a hearing – if they were sentenced before the nation’s highest court’s ruling.</span></p><p> Wed, 09 Jul 2014 14:32:56 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 18305 at http://michiganradio.org MI Supreme Court's ruling on juvenile lifers is stupid, expensive and will be overturned Her feisty character and other reasons to remember Michigan's only First Lady http://michiganradio.org/post/her-feisty-character-and-other-reasons-remember-michigans-only-first-lady <p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Patricia Hill Burnett, who was famous back in the </span>1970s<span style="line-height: 1.5;"> as sort of the quintessential Republican feminist, will be 94 in a few months.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">She is still defiantly pro-Equal Rights Amendment, pro-choice, and on economic issues, Republican to the core.</span></p><p>She was runner-up to Miss America 72 years ago, and went on to become both Michigan’s unofficial state portrait painter and the woman who started the state chapter of NOW, the National Organization for Women.</p><p>Comfortably wealthy, she always dresses and talks, as Detroit News columnist Laura Berman says today, “like a local, more highly educated version of Zsa Zsa Gabor.”</p><p>I went to see her earlier this year when she was recovering from a brief illness, and she told me that she felt sad that many young women did not want to be called feminists any more.</p><p>She was also sad that younger women didn’t know anything about Betty Ford.</p><p> Tue, 08 Jul 2014 14:54:35 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 18286 at http://michiganradio.org Her feisty character and other reasons to remember Michigan's only First Lady Charter school supporters’ response to investigations is "Soviet" in style http://michiganradio.org/post/charter-school-supporters-response-investigations-soviet-style <p></p> Mon, 07 Jul 2014 14:43:22 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 18274 at http://michiganradio.org Charter school supporters’ response to investigations is "Soviet" in style When it comes to representation in the Legislature and Congress, Michigan voters are still not equal http://michiganradio.org/post/when-it-comes-representation-legislature-and-congress-michigan-voters-are-still-not-equal <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;</span></p><p>Tomorrow we will happily celebrate the Fourth of July, both because we see it as the anniversary of American Independence and maybe especially because this year it comes with a three-day weekend.</p><p>Actually, what we are commemorating is not really true independence; that came at the end of the Revolutionary War. What this day marks is the signing of the Declaration on Independence, the best-remembered line of which is, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”</p><p>Well, as you probably know, the men who wrote that document didn’t believe that as we do now. For one thing, they were all men. Women didn’t even get to vote for more than a hundred years.</p><p>Races other than whites weren’t equal, nor were the landless poor. But we like to think that isn’t the case anymore. After all, we have a black president, and may soon have a female one.</p><p>But when it comes to representation in the Legislature and Congress, Michigan voters are still not equal.</p><p>Legislative seats have to be roughly equal in terms of population. Congressional districts, exactly so. They redraw the boundaries every ten years. But politicians do the drawing, and last time, Republicans were in complete control of the process. That enabled them to give themselves total advantage.</p><p> Thu, 03 Jul 2014 15:21:56 +0000 Tony Brown 18255 at http://michiganradio.org When it comes to representation in the Legislature and Congress, Michigan voters are still not equal Terri Lynn Land was a good secretary of state, but she isn't up to date on issues http://michiganradio.org/post/terri-lynn-land-was-good-secretary-state-she-isnt-date-issues <p></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Okay, here’s today’s political trivia test: What do the following people have in common?&nbsp;</span></p><div style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Bob Griffin, Marvin Esch, Jack Lousma, Jim Dunn, Phil Ruppe, Ronna Romney, Bill Schuette, Rocky Raczkowski, Jack Hoogendyk, Spencer Abraham, Mike Bouchard, and Pete Hoekstra.&nbsp;That’s the complete list of Michigan Republicans nominated to run statewide for the U.S. Senate in the last 40 years.&nbsp;</div><div style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;"><br />They have something else in common, too:&nbsp;Every one lost. How many Republicans won election to the Senate over the same period? Only one: Spencer Abraham, who won in 1994. Six years later, he was a loser, too.</div><div style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;"><br />That’s an incredible record of frustration. Twelve out of 13 losses. That’s especially strange, given that the GOP has held the governorship for most of that time, and the Legislature.</div><div style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;"><br />If you are 31 or younger, you weren’t even born the last time Democrats controlled the state Senate.</div><div style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;"> Wed, 02 Jul 2014 14:57:13 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 18235 at http://michiganradio.org Terri Lynn Land was a good secretary of state, but she isn't up to date on issues The polarizing reactions to the 'Hobby Lobby' case are more frightening than the Cold War http://michiganradio.org/post/polarizing-reactions-hobby-lobby-case-are-more-frightening-cold-war <p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">I woke up this morning thinking about the election 38 years ago, when Jimmy Carter narrowly defeated Michigan’s only president, Gerald Ford. That may sound a little bizarre, but before you call my psychiatrist, I was at the Ford Library just a few days ago.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">And something that happened yesterday made me nostalgic for that long-ago time, for a very modern reason. I have intensely followed politics all my life, and remember that election as though it were yesterday.</span></p><p>The result was very close – the winner wasn’t known 'till almost four the next morning. There was sadness and some bitterness on the part of the losers the next day.</p><p> Tue, 01 Jul 2014 15:56:42 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 18218 at http://michiganradio.org The polarizing reactions to the 'Hobby Lobby' case are more frightening than the Cold War Stay safe around fireworks this Independence Day, since the Legislature isn't helping http://michiganradio.org/post/stay-safe-around-fireworks-independence-day-legislature-isnt-helping <p></p><p></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">As I am sure you’ve noticed, Friday is the Fourth of July, which means that for several nights before and afterwards, many of our neighborhoods will sound after dark like a free-fire zone.</span><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;" /><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;" /><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">In other words, kids, some of them long past voting age, will be setting off fireworks. A few will hurt themselves, mainly burning their hands or losing a finger. Some may lose an eye.</span><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;" /><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;" /><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">If the grass is dry enough or a bottle rocket goes out of control, we may have some serious fires. Six years ago, a bottle rocket landed on the roof of a rather nice apartment complex in Toledo, starting a blaze that completely destroyed the buildings.</span><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;" /><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;" /><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Nobody died, but a hundred people were left homeless. Over the years, I’ve noticed that the staunchest advocates for gun control haven’t been so-called Ann Arbor liberals, but the police.</span><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;" /><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;" /><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Cops are not always known to be liberal on social issues, but they see on a firsthand basis what guns in the wrong hands can do. By the same token, firefighters tend to be the most anti-firecracker.</span><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;" /><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;" /><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Firemen, and city officials. When I was young, Ohio had far more liberal fireworks policies than Michigan. But that has changed. Ohio has outlawed almost all consumer fireworks.</span><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;" /><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;" /><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">But three years ago, our Legislature made them far easier to get and blow up for three days around any national holiday.&nbsp;</span></p><p> Mon, 30 Jun 2014 15:07:08 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 18202 at http://michiganradio.org Stay safe around fireworks this Independence Day, since the Legislature isn't helping Governor Snyder made gun ownership records private http://michiganradio.org/post/governor-snyder-made-gun-ownership-records-private <p></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Most of us don’t completely trust the government. We certainly don’t want government to be able to prevent us from getting information we want or need.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">We are against governments suppressing information…unless it is stuff that we personally want suppressed.</span><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Then that’s different, of course.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">I thought of that this week when Governor Rick Snyder signed legislation that prevents the press or public from being able to get gun records. From now on, we will be unable to find out who owns guns, and who has permits and licenses to have them.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Well, conservatives and gun lovers are thrilled about this, and I’m not surprised. For some reason, those who most feel the need to be heavily armed seem also to be the most paranoid.&nbsp;</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">State Representative Aric Nesbitt, who enthusiastically backed these bills, said: “By allowing publication of private information about gun owners, some other states have put gun owners and their neighbors at risk. We want to prevent that from happening."</span></p><p> Fri, 27 Jun 2014 14:21:47 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 18184 at http://michiganradio.org Governor Snyder made gun ownership records private Remembering a dose of humility from Jeopardy! http://michiganradio.org/post/remembering-dose-humility-jeopardy <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:2;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-2f6a479e-db73-3e5b-0b1d-5d96f012ef30"><span style="font-size: 19px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap; background-color: transparent;">Last night, I tried my luck on the NPR game show, “Ask Me Another.” &nbsp;It brought back memories – traumatic ones – of my disastrous try out for the Jeopardy! game show 24 years ago.</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:2;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: 19px; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 2; background-color: transparent;">"I'll take 'Humility' for $100 please, Alex."</span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:2;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-2f6a479e-db73-3e5b-0b1d-5d96f012ef30"><span style="font-size: 19px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap; background-color: transparent;">"He was one of fifty people to fail the Jeopardy test on June 21, 1990."</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:2;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-2f6a479e-db73-3e5b-0b1d-5d96f012ef30"><span style="font-size: 19px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap; background-color: transparent;">"Ah, 'Who was John Bacon?'"</span></span></p><p></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:2;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-2f6a479e-db73-3e5b-0b1d-5d96f012ef30"><span style="font-size: 19px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap; background-color: transparent;">24 years ago, it seemed like a good idea. &nbsp;There I was, lying on the couch, watching Jeopardy!, and yelling out things like "Millard Fillmore," "The St. Louis Browns" and "Mesopotamia," when they invited anybody who would be in Los Angeles to try out for the show. &nbsp;Turned out I would be, so I figured, Why Not? &nbsp;&nbsp;</span></span></p><p></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:2;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-2f6a479e-db73-3e5b-0b1d-5d96f012ef30"><span style="font-size: 19px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap; background-color: transparent;">Why not? &nbsp;Here’s why: It’s a poor predictor of success on the show, only 3-percent pass it -- &nbsp;oh, and you can’t really study for it. &nbsp;&nbsp;That’s why. &nbsp;</span></span></p><p> Fri, 27 Jun 2014 11:00:00 +0000 John U. Bacon 18181 at http://michiganradio.org Remembering a dose of humility from Jeopardy! Wayne county is so Democratic the only election that really counts is the August primary http://michiganradio.org/post/wayne-county-so-democratic-only-election-really-counts-august-primary <p></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Wayne County always has been the biggest county in Michigan, at least in terms of people, and it's the most important.&nbsp;</span><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Though it includes Detroit, more than a million of its residents live elsewhere, from the affluent leafy suburbs of Plymouth to gritty downriver towns like River Rouge.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">They are all very different, but have two things in common. First, they elect an executive, sort of a super mayor to run things. And second, they live in a county in trouble and in deficit.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">In recent years, Wayne County has been rocked by personnel scandals and an astonishing farce concerning a half-built jail abandoned after $125 million taxpayer dollars had been wasted.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Now, there are increasing worries that Wayne County, like its largest city, could be facing emergency management. That should be alarming to all of us for the same reason Detroit’s troubles are.</span></p><p> Thu, 26 Jun 2014 16:34:49 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 18161 at http://michiganradio.org Wayne county is so Democratic the only election that really counts is the August primary The era of Freedom Summer and Medgar Evers may seem like long ago, but we shouldn't forget them http://michiganradio.org/post/era-freedom-summer-and-medgar-evers-may-seem-long-ago-we-shouldnt-forget-them <p></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Whatever you think about the way society is evolving, there continues to be progress when it comes to human and civil rights and freedoms. Yesterday, Governor Rick Snyder signed two bills protecting the rights of breast-feeding mothers to nurse in public. &nbsp;</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">True, this always should have been a universal human right, but progress doesn’t always come as quickly as it should -- nor for the right reasons. The governor, never eager to go out on a limb on social issues, said the bill would help prevent obesity.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Meanwhile, it seems increasingly likely that same-sex marriage will also be fully legal before very long.&nbsp;</span><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">These have been hard-fought battles, as all struggles for civil rights always have been. But to the best of my knowledge, nobody has been threatening to kill anyone for breast-feeding.&nbsp;</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Yet I got a call last night from an old civil rights attorney who reminded me that we lived in a very different world half a century ago.</span></p><p> Wed, 25 Jun 2014 14:43:45 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 18141 at http://michiganradio.org The era of Freedom Summer and Medgar Evers may seem like long ago, but we shouldn't forget them People need to stop using political slogans as a substitute for critical thinking http://michiganradio.org/post/people-need-stop-using-political-slogans-substitute-critical-thinking <p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">I noticed something familiar yesterday after I talked about a new investigative series in the Detroit Free&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Press on charter schools. What I said drew a fair amount of comment. Virtually none of the comments had to do with anything I said.</span></p><p>People mainly reacted based on opinions they already had&nbsp;about charter schools. Some of the comments weren’t even about schools at all, at least not directly.</p><p>One writer declared that “our leaders” want to pay executives a lot, screw over the workers and “choose to not believe in science and mathematics.” I’m not clear exactly what that has to do with charter school administration.</p><p>Another said that burglar alarm companies are really an outrage since our taxes pay for the police. Okay.</p><p>Finally, somebody who plainly didn’t read the charter school series said it was all dictated by the teachers’ union, and accused me of wanting “more government insight into all phases of our lives.”</p><p> Tue, 24 Jun 2014 17:20:43 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 18120 at http://michiganradio.org People need to stop using political slogans as a substitute for critical thinking Why Michigan charter schools need more regulation and oversight http://michiganradio.org/post/why-michigan-charter-schools-need-more-regulation-and-oversight <p></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">There are those who say newspapers are dead, a relic of journalism’s primitive days before Google, before phones&nbsp;</span><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">in our pockets connected everyone to everyone else.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Well, there is no doubt that the traditional economic model that allowed “dead tree journalism” to flourish is in trouble. There’s little doubt that lots of us no longer have the reading habits needed for so-called “long-form” journalism.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">But there’s also no doubt that this is a tragedy, because at their best, newspapers do something other media can’t. That’s on display this week in the Detroit Free Press.&nbsp;</span><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">The newspaper spent a year investigating Michigan’s charter schools and how the state oversees them.</span></p><p></p><p> Mon, 23 Jun 2014 14:01:01 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 18105 at http://michiganradio.org Why Michigan charter schools need more regulation and oversight State Rep. Rudy Hobbs says he may be the underdog, but he's not going to lose the primary http://michiganradio.org/post/state-rep-rudy-hobbs-says-he-may-be-underdog-hes-not-going-lose-primary <p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Yesterday, <a href="http://michiganradio.org/post/brenda-lawrence-has-done-well-southfield-would-she-do-same-if-elected-congress">I talked about Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence</a>, who is in a tight race to win the Democratic primary in Michigan’s wildly gerrymandered 14th Congressional District, which stretches from the affluent Grosse </span>Pointes,<span style="line-height: 1.5;"> through the worst parts of Detroit, through Oakland County suburbs.</span></p><p>Most polls say the front runner is either Lawrence or former Congressman Hansen Clarke, who lost the primary here two years ago.</p><p>Clarke dropped out of sight after losing to Gary Peters, who is now moving on to run for the Senate. But, he resurfaced at the last moment this year to try to reclaim a congressional seat.</p><p>Surveys show a tight contest between Clarke and Lawrence, but virtually all the big endorsements have gone to a third candidate young enough to be their son.</p><p> Fri, 20 Jun 2014 14:09:16 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 18085 at http://michiganradio.org State Rep. Rudy Hobbs says he may be the underdog, but he's not going to lose the primary Brenda Lawrence has done well for Southfield. Would she do the same if elected to Congress? http://michiganradio.org/post/brenda-lawrence-has-done-well-southfield-would-she-do-same-if-elected-congress <p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">I discovered something bizarre when Brenda Lawrence first ran for mayor of Southfield 13 years ago.</span></p><p>Back then, Southfield, a suburban business center and bedroom community just north of Detroit, had just become a majority African-American city. Lawrence was challenging a white mayor who’d been in office almost 30 years.</p><p>When I talked to some of the 70,000 residents, I found white voters who were excited about her candidacy and who wanted to get rid of the longtime incumbent. But I talked to upwardly mobile black voters who emphatically did not want a black mayor.</p><p>They told me that every community that elects a black mayor soon became an impoverished ghetto. Lawrence vowed that wouldn’t happen. She won, and it hasn’t. She has been in office ever since.</p><p> Thu, 19 Jun 2014 21:24:39 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 18067 at http://michiganradio.org Brenda Lawrence has done well for Southfield. Would she do the same if elected to Congress? Some Michigan Republicans have changed their minds and now support gay marriage http://michiganradio.org/post/some-michigan-republicans-have-changed-their-minds-and-now-support-gay-marriage <p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">When Rick Johnson became Speaker of the Michigan House of Representatives, I was a little dubious.</span></p><p>He was a dairy farmer who had only gone as far as high school, and I worried what this might mean for&nbsp;</p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">higher education.</span></p><p></p><p>But as it turned out, while he was Republican to the core, he was generally a reasonable, open-minded man. Not, however, on the issue of same-sex marriage, which he opposed.</p><p>That was 10 years ago, and he wasn’t alone. A large majority of Michiganders who went to the polls that year voted to amend the state constitution to outlaw same sex marriage forever.</p><p>But forever didn’t last. Across America this year, judge after judge has overturned state prohibitions against same-sex marriage.</p><p> Wed, 18 Jun 2014 15:44:23 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 18052 at http://michiganradio.org Some Michigan Republicans have changed their minds and now support gay marriage This is bigger than the usual story of a free-spending administrator running amok http://michiganradio.org/post/bigger-usual-story-free-spending-administrator-running-amok <p>To the surprise of no one, John Covington resigned abruptly yesterday, with a year left on his expensive contract.&nbsp;<span style="line-height: 1.5;">He was the controversial head of Detroit’s controversial Education Achievement Authority, usually known as the </span>EAA<span style="line-height: 1.5;">.</span></p><p>Both Covington and Gov. Rick Snyder insisted he wasn’t fired. This was clearly for appearances sake, and for appearances’ sake, both men are probably lucky they are not Pinocchio.</p><p>For the last year, there has been a steady stream of stories about problems with the authority, which was set up to run 15 of Detroit’s worst schools. Most recently, we learned that it has been spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in travel, sending administrators and teachers to a lot of expensive conferences.</p><p>The Detroit News revealed the authority spent $10,000 on gas for Covington’s chauffeur-driven car, money that could have been spent on teachers, computers and the classroom. So he is gone, and the people I know there won’t miss him.</p><p>But this has more importance than the usual story of one free-spending administrator running amok. And that is because Gov. Snyder wants to expand the EAA to at least 50 schools statewide. A bill that would allow that has passed the state House of Representatives, but hasn’t yet made it through the Senate. It should now be clear that they need to go slow.</p><p> Tue, 17 Jun 2014 16:08:30 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 18032 at http://michiganradio.org This is bigger than the usual story of a free-spending administrator running amok Michigan lawmakers' failure on roads eroding our faith in government http://michiganradio.org/post/michigan-lawmakers-failure-roads-eroding-our-faith-government <p>Our Legislature’s refusal to do what’s needed to fix the roads made me remember a brilliant political move many years ago.</p><p>President Harry Truman was running for re-election, and his chances didn’t look good.</p><p>He was a Democrat, and had a Republican Congress that didn’t want to cooperate on anything he wanted. So he called them back for a special session during the campaign. He challenged Congress to pass laws the nation needed.</p> Mon, 16 Jun 2014 16:19:59 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 18009 at http://michiganradio.org Michigan lawmakers' failure on roads eroding our faith in government