Mercedes Mejia

Reporter/Producer

Mercedes Mejia produces interviews for All Things Considered, including the music segment Songs from Studio East. She also produces content for Stateside. Mercedes relocated to Michigan from New Mexico, where she earned her BA in Latin American Studies and Journalism. She began in public radio as a reporter at KUNM in Albuquerque. She brings extensive video production skills from her work at Univision and Edit House Production.

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Newsmaker Interviews
9:51 am
Wed May 8, 2013

Mayor Dayne Walling on financial future of Flint

Flint Mayor Dayne Walling
Facebook

Flint’s Emergency Manager, Ed Kurtz, says he will resign come June 30th, which may put Flint a step closer to returning to local control. Flint Mayor Dayne Walling talks with Jennifer White about the financial future of Flint.

Flint’s city council recently passed a resolution asking Governor Rick Snyder to remove the city’s emergency manager and appoint a transition advisory team.

“There are a number of requirements in the law that would have to be met by the appointed manager before a transition board could be put in place, such as the adoption of a two-year budget. So, city council leadership and I have been calling on for those steps to get done as soon as possible. The city of Flint does face financial challenges, let’s get addressed as soon as possible so we can move on,” says Mayor Walling.

When asked how financially healthy Flint is right now, Walling says:

“It’s marginally stable. But our position is that it’s going to take some long-term planning, some serious community partnerships to get the city to where it’s more sustainable going forward. And that work cannot be done effectively by an appointed manager.”

Listen to the full interview above.

Arts & Culture
2:55 pm
Mon May 6, 2013

Songs from Studio East: Matt Jones

Matt Jones performing with Misty Lyn Bergeron at Michigan Radio.
Mercedes Mejia Michigan Radio

Ypsilanti's Matt Jones has been writing songs and performing around Michigan for the past 15 years. The 35-year-old has been receiving more critical acclaim and has a growing fan base. His story is one of overcoming personal demons and finding salvation in the thing he loves best: making music. 

Matt Jones and Misty Lyn Bergeron performed for us in Michigan Radio's Studio East.

Check it out here:

Weekly Political Roundup
4:55 pm
Thu May 2, 2013

Republicans need 'top tier' candidate to run against Peters for Senate

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Each Thursday we speak with Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

This week, we look at clashes over the budget which led to House Speaker Jase Bolger removing eight Democrats from their committee assignments. Four were later given back those assignments after what Bolger called “positive individual meetings."

And Gary Peters announced his run for Senate. Who might Republicans choose to run against him?

Listen to the full interview above.

Newsmaker Interviews
5:39 pm
Tue April 30, 2013

L. Brooks Patterson speaks out against changing Michigan's no-fault auto insurance

L. Brooks Patterson.
screen grab of Oakland Co. video

A proposed reform to Michigan’s no-fault auto insurance is circulating in the Legislature.

Among other things, it would cap benefits for people who suffer severe injuries in auto accidents at $1 million.

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson has come out as a strong opponent to this legislation.

Patterson is still recovering from a serious auto accident he had last summer, and his driver, James Cram of Owosso, was paralyzed from the neck down.

In this interview with Jennifer White, Patterson talks about his opposition to the proposed legislation and his recovery.

You can listen to the full interview above.

Patterson wanted to be clear that he and his driver were working at the time of their accident.

Their medical bills are covered by worker's compensation, so Patterson says his opposition to changes to Michigan's no-fault insurance laws are not for his own benefit.

"Did the accident make me more aware and more sensitized to the plight of people who suffer from catastrophic injuries? Absolutely," he said.

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Newsmaker Interview
4:21 pm
Thu April 25, 2013

Does Michigan need a law that allows the refusal of health care on moral basis?

John Moolenaar State Senator - 36th District

Senate Bill 136 would allow health care providers, facilities and insurance providers to deny service based on religious, moral or ethical objections. State Senator John Moolenar, a Republican representing Michigan’s 36th District is the bill’s sponsor. He spoke with Jennifer White earlier this week.

Listen to full interview above.

Newsmaker Interview
10:21 am
Wed April 17, 2013

Rep. Dan Kildee calls for federal aid to tear down abandoned homes

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Democratic U.S. Representative Dan Kildee is one of the newest members of congress. Kildee’s first piece of legislation is a proposal  to free up more than $1 billion in federal aid to help cities such as Detroit and Flint tear down thousands of abandoned homes. He hopes this plan will serve to stabilize neighborhoods. Congressman Kildee represents Michigan’s 5th congressional district. 

Listen to the full interview above.

That's What They Say
8:12 am
Sun March 24, 2013

Why do we seldom use the word 'seldom?'

On this week's edition of "That's What They Say," we explore why the word seldom is fading from use. Host Rina Miller talks with Professor Anne Curzan of the University of Michigan.

Language change is similar to fashion trends, says Curzan. And it seems the use of "almost never" is replacing the word seldom. 

"When you think about it, 'almost never' is not a very efficient replacement for 'seldom,' but it's what came into fashion, and 'seldom' is out of fashion and 'infrequently' had its moment of fashion," Curzan says. 

Analogy is another reason for language change. For example, Curzan says "oxen" will most likely change to "oxes" because other nouns take "s" and through analogy people will start to use "s" to make ox plural. 

Listen to the full interview above. 

Politics & Government
4:36 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

Weekly Political Roundup: Medicaid expansion problems, universities face possible penalties

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Each week for a look at Michigan politics, we’re joined by Susan Demas, political analyst at Michigan Information and Research Service, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

On today's "Weekly Political Roundup," Governor Snyder wants an expansion of Medicaid adding about 400,000 people to its roles. A state House subcommittee yesterday removed a budget provision that would make that possible. We talk about what’s behind the rejection. Plus, we explore the politics around  financially penalizing universities and school districts that sign long term contracts with unions in advance of the new right-to-work law, which goes into effect next week. 

Music
5:32 pm
Fri March 15, 2013

Songs From Studio East: Jessica Hernandez and The Deltas

This indie-soul group is getting a lot of attention around the Michigan music scene. Their new album Tarantula Manson comes out this fall.

Listen to the full interview above to hear about Hernandez's path to becoming a singer-songwriter, band manager, and female force in the Detroit music scene.

The group performs at Saint Andrews Hall in Detroit on Friday, March 22nd. For more information visit their website. But, for now check out an acoustic performance from band members in Michigan Radio's Studio East.

Weekly Political Roundup
5:01 pm
Thu March 14, 2013

Will the state send cash to Detroit?

Mayor Dave Bing stands beside Governor Rick Snyder as Snyder annouces Kevyn Orr (right) as his choice for Detroit emergency manager.
State of Michigan screen grab

Each week we speak with Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service.

Governor Rick Snyder officially announced the appointment of an emergency manager for Detroit today. He named Kevyn Orr, a Washington D.C. lawyer who represented Chrysler in it’s 2009 bankruptcy as his manager of choice. Orr has many ties to Michigan including graduating from the University of Michigan Law School.

" I think the city is going to need some cash in order to meet some obligations and restructuring, whether or not that is going to be an easy sell is a different matter," said Demas.

"If this gentleman [Kevyn Orr] can actually show some results to get this city in the right direction than I think the attitude in Lansing would be different toward more money, and more investment," Sikkema said.

Listen to the full interview above.

Newsmaker Interviews
4:42 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Advocates say juvenile prisoners are at risk

user FatMandy flickr

Michigan is one of 25 states that allow convicted teens, under the age of 18, to be imprisoned with adults.

Attorney Deborah LaBelle is a juvenile justice advocate with the ACLU. She estimates nearly 200,000 children have been abused in adult prisons. LaBelle recently returned from Washington, D.C. where the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights conducted a hearing on this issue with representatives from the U.S. State Department. The hearing focused on the physical, sexual, and psychological abuse experienced by children when housed with adults in prisons.

"In addition to the physical and psychological harm that's going on, putting children in the adult facilitates also results in them losing the very two things that makes them children: education and contact with their family and parents," LaBelle said in this interview with Jennifer White.

You can listen to the full interview above.

Education
4:49 pm
Mon March 11, 2013

Talking 'race' with NPR's Michele Norris

NPR's Michele Norris leads "The Race Card Project," an initiative to foster a wider conversation about race in America that she created after the publication of her 2010 family memoir, The Grace of Silence.

As part of its "Theme Semester on Race," The University of Michigan is engaging the community in a conversation on race. Imagine capturing your beliefs, feelings, experiences around race and fitting them into just six words. Well, The Race Card Project does just that, and it is the brain child of NPR’s Michele Norris who stopped by our Ann Arbor studio to talk about her project.

Click here for more information about the U-M project.

Politics & Government
4:57 pm
Thu March 7, 2013

Weekly Political Roundup: Road funding, Earned Income Tax Credit, Detroit's future

State Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Ifmuth Flickr

Each week we talk Michigan politics with Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants. Today we talk about transportation funding. Governor Snyder has called for $1.2 billion to address roads and transportation in Michigan, but there's no agreement in the legislature about how to get the money.

Plus, people are filing taxes and starting to feel the impact of some of the changes in the Michigan tax code, which includes the reduction in the Earned Income Tax Credit. Now a coalition is calling for the EITC to be restored, and Democrats in the House and Senate agree. What's next for the EITC?

And, as the Detroit City Council plans to appeal Governor Snyder’s decision to appointment an emergency financial manager for the city they are doing so without the support of Mayor Dave Bing who says it’s a fight they can’t win. Is he right?

Newsmaker Interviews
1:26 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Budget director John Nixon on impact of sequester on Michigan

Michigan Budget Director John Nixon

With President Obama and Congress failing to come to a budget deal, automatic spending cuts have gone into effect. There have been dire warnings about the impact of those cuts though the effects won’t be felt immediately. But Michigan gets over half its budget from the federal government which means the state will have to face the impact of the cuts if impasse isn't resolved soon. We speak with Budget Director John Nixon.

Politics & Government
4:50 pm
Tue February 26, 2013

Rep. Candice Miller on border security

Miller represents Michigan's 10th Congressional District
Candice Miller's official website

In the national debate over immigration reform, border security has risen as an issue of concern. It's certainly important for Michigan, which has 721 miles of border with Canada.

Republican U.S. Representative Candice Miller represents Michigan’s 10th Congressional District. Miller also serves as the Chair of the Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security. She’s calling for a comprehensive examination of border security.

Education
5:48 pm
Wed February 13, 2013

Are we so different?

Mercedes Mejia/Michigan Radio

As part of the theme semester Understanding Race, the University of Michigan has brought in a special exhibit to further examine what race means. "Race: Are We So Different" is currently on display at the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History. I met up with Dr. Yolanda Moses, Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Riverside  - to take a walk through the exhibit.

Weekly Political Roundup
4:55 pm
Thu February 7, 2013

A different kind of budget

State Captiol building in Lansing.
Graham Davis flickr

On Thursdays we talk politics with Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

On tap today: Governor Rick Snyder presented his budget proposal. It included a 2% increase in funding for K-12 education, $130 million increase for Great Start, an increase in transportation funding, and an expansion of Medicaid.

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Music
4:10 pm
Fri January 25, 2013

Songs From Studio East: Frontier Ruckus

Photo/Doug Coombe

Michigan-based Frontier Ruckus has a new CD, Eternity of Dimming out from Quite Scientific Records. The double album with 20 songs is “dense,” according to Matthew Milia, lead singer-guitarist for the band.

“They’re not two-minute-long pop songs with recurring choruses that people can latch on immediately to…but the people that do take the time to dig in and listen, seem to find themselves being rewarded… in ways that exceed the simply pop song,” he said.

Milia’s inspiration comes from his memories of growing up in metro Detroit. Banjo player David Jones calls the lyrics “obsessively suburban,” a kind of homage to the 90’s era.

The country folk-rock band  draws inspiration from Michigan, specifically from the geography and landscape of suburban Detroit, along with the complications of coming of age.

While some artists choose to move away to places like New York or Los Angeles to pursue a career in music, Jones says “It would be heart-breaking to leave Michigan," and adds there's an "overwhelming love and nostalgia for just being here."

Check out Frontier Ruckus performing songs from their new album. Matthew Milia, lead singer-guitarist; David Jones, banjo and vocals; Zach Nichols, trumpet, singing-saw, other instruments; and Ryan Etzcorn on percussion.

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Newsmaker Interviews
4:16 pm
Tue January 22, 2013

The Jemima Code uncovers real life of African-American cooks

Author and journalist, Toni Tipton-Martin visits Ann Arbor.
Website screen shot. http://tonitiptonmartin.com/

For many people, the name Aunt Jemima immediately brings a certain image to mind - pancakes anyone? The image -- with the broad smile, round face, and hair wrapped in a bandana -- is powerful, and often controversial.

Author Toni Tipton-Martin examines the image of Aunt Jemima through the recipes and histories of real-life African-American cooks. The Jemima Code is a blog, book project, and traveling art exhibition that looks beyond the bandana.

Tipton-Martin will be a special guest at Zingerman’s 8th Annual African-American dinner tonight. She will also present a special talk on food and diversity on Wednesday January 23rd at 7:00pm. You can visit this link for more information.

Politics & Government
5:58 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Weekly Political Roundup

State Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Ifmuth Flickr

Every Thursday we take a look at Michigan politics with Ken Sikkema, former senate majority leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service. As a wrap up to the year they talk about the most important legislation that passed this year. Plus, they discuss Governor Snyder’s veto of legislation that would have allowed concealed pistols in school, day cares, and places of worship.

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