Newsmaker Interviews

Tuesdays

Every Tuesday, Michigan Radio's All Things Considered  host Jennifer White talks with state and federal lawmakers, community leaders, experts and advocates about issues that affect Michigan citizens.

You can find past interviews and share you comments on the pages below.

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Newsmaker Interview
5:29 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

Central American children destined for Michigan?

Derrick McCree, Senior Vice President of Residential Services at Wolverine Human Services

There has been a recent influx of undocumented children who are crossing the Mexican border into the U.S. Many of these children hail from Central American nations where violence is prevalent. Recent news that some of these children could be housed here at a facility in Vassar, Michigan while awaiting immigration hearings has received mixed reactions.

Wolverine Human Services is an organization that owns and operates a facility in Vassar and might house some of the Central American children. Jennifer White, host of All Things Considered, is joined by Derrick McCree, senior VP of Wolverine Human Services.

McCree says as it stands right now, the contract is still under consideration by the Office of Refugee Settlement. The contracting company, Heartland Alliance of Chicago, Illinois, has been providing services for children in similar circumstances for the past 19 years. Due to the humanitarian crisis at the national level, Heartland Alliance reached out to other providers, particularly in Michigan, to inquire about providing assistance.

The services provided are essential, basic shelter services, medical care, education in the format of ESL, recreational activities, and trauma counseling. Heartland Alliance would cover the reunification fees to help seek relatives or family members within the U.S. where the child could stay while the court proceedings play out. If no family member or relative is located, the option of a foster family exists.

According to McCree, funding for the program comes from the federal government. And while there has been vocal opposition to the idea of housing children in Vassar, McCree says the Vassar community has been largely supportive, and he's heard from people who are interested in helping the Central American children. McCree says the children making their way to the southern U.S. border are escaping what are often very dangerous situaations, and they are in need of help.

Omar Saadeh - Michigan Radio Newsroom 

Newsmaker Interview
8:07 pm
Fri July 11, 2014

Congressman Kildee says some Central American refugees will likely come to Michigan

Dan Kildee is a Democrat representing Michigan’s 5th Congressional district which includes Bay City, Saginaw, and Flint.
Credit Steve Carmody

In recent weeks we’ve been hearing about the surge of undocumented minors from Central America crossing into the U.S. Some call it a humanitarian crisis while others look at it as the result of a failed immigration policy. 

Wolverine Human Services has applied to be a sub-contractor to house these children at their facility in Vassar.

Democratic Congressman Dan Kildee talk about where things stand right now. 

"I think there is some degree of likelihood that Wolverine will be providing some shelter for these young unaccompanied minors that have made their way to our border," said Kildee.

Listen to the full interview above.

Newsmaker Interview
4:44 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

Detroit will continue to face major challenges even after bankruptcy

Credit Bob Jagendorf / Flickr

    

As the city of Detroit swiftly works its way through bankruptcy court there are some bright spots on the horizon. The state of Michigan, foundations and corporations are contributing millions of dollars to shore up city pensions and protect art held by the Detroit Institute of Arts. Mayor Mike Duggan is making strides to alleviate blight across the city. However, even in a best case scenario, what issues and challenges will the city continue to face even after the bankruptcy proceedings conclude?

Jennifer White, host of All Things Considered, speaks with Michigan State University Economist Eric Scorsone about the challenges facing the city of Detroit and the key systemic issues that the city must address.

Scorsone emphasizes that although there has been some recovery in the city, the challenges of the high unemployment rate, the big differences in the Detroit labor market when it comes to earnings of city residents compared to non-residents, upgrading the skill levels of city residents and the creation of jobs are issues that no one individual will be able to resolve alone, and will require cooperation from many agencies and non-profit organizations.

According to Scorsone, blight removal is an important step, but it is not necessarily the final solution. There needs to be major changes when it comes to land designated for certain uses such as housing, and stabilizing certain neighborhoods is imperative to the city’s future health. 

Listen to the full interview above.

--Omar Saadeh

Newsmaker Interviews
5:39 pm
Fri May 9, 2014

Rep. Lisa Posthumus Lyons explains latest on statewide teacher evaluation bills

State Representative Lisa Posthumus Lyons.

A state wide teacher evaluation system is finally seeing some movement in the legislature. The plan would rate teachers and administrators based on student growth on standardized tests and in-class observations. If teachers and administrators are found to be ineffective for three year in a row, they would be fired.

Representative Lisa Posthumus Lyons is the Chair of the House Education Committee. She joined us today.

Newsmaker Interview
4:53 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

Republican state senator introduces bill to increase minimum wage

Credit Cedar Bend / Flickr

Michigan voters could see a question about increasing the minimum wage on the ballot this year. A petition drive is under way to collect enough signatures. But one Republican lawmaker has introduced a bill to increase the minimum wage in Michigan. Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, wants to increase the minimum wage from $7.40 to $8.15 an hour and an increase from $2.65 to $2.75 an hour for tipped workers.

“I’m suggesting that this is a good alternative," Jones says. "I don’t want to see all these waiters and waitresses lose these jobs; many of them are single moms who depend on this income and this is very good income for somebody typically with just a high school diploma."

Jones believes that minimum wage is intended as a starter job and that there are good jobs in Michigan, but that companies are having a difficult time filling those positions. Jones emphasizes that people need to understand the risks behind a possible ballot proposal to increase the minimum wage.

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Newsmaker Interview
5:02 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

What's next for the EAA in Michigan?

Credit kconnors / morguefile

  A vote is expected on a final version of a bill that would expand the Education Achievement Authority into a statewide district. 

The EAA was created by the Snyder administration to initially oversee the lowest performing schools in the Detroit Public School system where it currently oversees 15 schools. Supporters say the EAA will give troubled schools the opportunity to turn things around, but critics say the EAA hasn’t proved that its model for education is a successful one. 

Brian Smith, the statewide education reporter for MLIVE.com joined us today. 

Newsmaker Interview
4:50 pm
Tue March 4, 2014

Could foundations offering to help Detroit regret their decision?

William Schambra is the director of the Hudson Institute’s Bradley Center for Philanthropy and Civic Renewal.

  As Detroit continues to move through the bankruptcy process, an outstanding issue is a plan to protect artwork at the Detroit Institute of Arts. A group of foundations and private donors have pledged over $300 million that would help cover city pensions and offset the need to sell the artwork. 

A recent op-ed in the Chronicle of Philanthropy questions the wisdom of this plan. William Schambra is the director of the Hudson Institute’s Bradley Center for Philanthropy and Civic Renewal in Washington D.C. and he joined us today.

Listen to the interview with William Schambra.

Newsmaker Interview
4:58 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

Audio: April DeBoer talks about challenging Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage

Domestic partner benefits include benefits to gay and non-gay couples.
user dbking Flickr

Tomorrow, hearings challenging Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage begin in federal court.

Partners April DeBoer and Jayne Rouse are two nurses, living in Hazel Park. They’ve been raising three children together, but they cannot jointly adopt the children because of Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage.

The couple sued the state for the right to adopt jointly and eventually submitted a legal challenge to the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

The hearings are expected to focus on whether Michigan’s same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional and whether children are harmed by being raised by same-sex parents.

Listen to April DeBoer speaking with All Things Considered Host, Jennifer White below:


Newsmaker Interview
5:20 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Why Rep. Lipton believes her bill is better alternative to EAA

Democratic Ellen Cogen Lipton represents Michigan's 27th House District.

The Michigan House could vote this week to expand the Education Achievement Authority, or EAA.

The EAA was created by Gov. Rick Snyder as a separate school district for the lowest-performing 5% of schools in Michigan. The idea was that under the oversight of a state appointed emergency manager, those schools could be transformed into higher performing, stable schools. Supporters of the EAA say the district is showing student improvement. Critics of the district say the EAA is failing students and schools.

Democratic Rep. Ellen Cogen Lipton is the sponsor of House Bill 5268. She spoke with All Things Considered host Jennifer White.

Newsmaker Interview
4:46 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

Why Rep. Zemke believes teacher evaluations need change

D-Adam Zemke represents Michigan's 55th House District.

A set of bipartisan bills moving through the state legislature would reshape Michigan’s teacher evaluation system.

Democratic Rep. Adam Zemke from Ann Arbor sponsored Bill 5224. He spoke with All Things Considered host Jennifer White. 

Newsmaker Interview
5:32 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Detroit bankruptcy moving quickly

Peter Martorano Flickr

This week, Stephen Henderson, editorial page editor for the Detroit Free Press, pointed out the positive momentum around the Detroit bankruptcy, and also the glaring outstanding issues that could have a major impact on how quickly and efficiently the bankruptcy proceeds.

All Things Considered host Jennifer White spoke with Stephen Henderson.

Newsmaker Interview
5:28 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

One group strongly opposes raising the minimum wage

President Obama is expected to talk about raising the federal minimum wage in his State of the Union address tonight.  Across Michigan, there’s also increasing focus on raising the minimum wage for the first time since 2008.   The Raise Michigan campaign is working to get an initiative on the ballot that would raise the minimum wage to somewhere between $9 and $10.10 per hour. But the Michigan Chamber of Commerce strongly opposes raising the minimum wage.  Joining us to explain why is Wendy Block, director of health policy in human resources at the Michigan Chamber of Commerce.   We also spoke with Michigan State University economist Charles Ballard.

Newsmaker Interview
9:45 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

Does year-round school mean kids lose out on summer vacation?

Mercedes Meija Michigan Radio

Interview with Dan Quinn, director of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

In his recent State of the State address, Gov. Rick Snyder called for a pilot program for year-round schooling. Since that speech, education advocates and teachers’ unions have been weighing in on the question.

Schools that move to a year-round schedule would still have the same number of vacation days as traditionally structured schools, but those days would be dispersed over the course of the year rather than having a long summer break.

Joining us now is the director of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice, Dan Quinn. He is also a teacher of economics at Grosse Pointe North High School.  

Newsmaker Interview
4:20 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

How will Michigan's abortion law work?

Marianne Udow-Phillips
chrt.org

Last week, the Michigan legislature approved a voter-initiated law that bans abortion coverage in standard health insurance policies. The law does not include exceptions for rape or incest.

Joining us now to help us better understand the new law is Marianne Udow-Phillips, Director of the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation based at the University of Michigan. 

Newsmaker Interview
2:18 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Detroit eligible for bankruptcy, what comes next?

State lawmakers have passed bills allowing the city to keep taxing at certain rates. The legislation awaits Governor Snyder's approval.
Bob Jagendorf Flickr

 Today, Judge Steven Rhodes of the United States Bankruptcy Court ruled that while the City of Detroit did not negotiate with creditors in good faith, it did file for bankruptcy in good faith. His ruling makes Detroit eligible to file for the largest municipal bankruptcy in this country’s history.

David Shepardson, Washington reporter with the Detroit News has been following the bankruptcy. He joined us to talk about this historic ruling, and what to watch for in the coming months. 

Listen to the full interview above.

Newsmaker Interview
4:40 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

StoryCorps celebrates its 10th anniversary

Screenshot.
Storycorps website.

StoryCorps is celebrating its 10th anniversary of bringing us conversations that move us, make us laugh, make us think...and of course, draw some tears. 

Today, we talk with the founder of StoryCorps, David Isay about their new book "Ties that Bind: Stories of Love and Gratitude from the First Ten Years of StoryCorps”.

Newsmaker Interview
5:21 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

What the state could gain by raising the minimum wage

sushi ina flickr

There is legislation pending at the national and state level that seeks to increase the minimum wage. In Michigan it's $7.40 per hour, just over the federal minimum wage of $7.25.  A person working full time and earning the minimum would pull down just over $15,300 per year before taxes. 

Now, there are three bills from Democrats in the state legislature seeking an increase of Michigan’s minimum wage to $9 or $10 per hour. Opponents of those bills say it would lead to layoffs, decreased hours, and a spike in prices. Proponents say now is the time to increase the minimum wage.

Today, we talked with Yannet Lathrop, policy analyst with the Michigan League for Public Policy and author of the study “Raising the Minimum Wage: Good for Working Families, Good for Michigan’s Economy.” 

Listen to the full interview above.

Newsmaker Interview
5:36 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

A fresh face on Detroit City Council

Raquel Castaneda-Lopez, newly elected Detroit City Council member.
raquel4citycouncil.org Facebook

Raquel Castaneda-Lopez is the newest member to the Detroit  City Council representing District 6 in Southwest Detroit,​ which includes the largest concentration of Hispanic voters in the city.  Lopez gained political experience running state Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s campaign in 2008. She has worked with non-profit groups for years with a focus on youth programs in disadvantaged communities.

Lopez says she want to keep the focus on the needs of her constituents - safety and access to city services for example. 

Read more
Newsmaker Interview
5:04 pm
Tue October 29, 2013

Did the state negotiate in good faith at the Detroit bankruptcy hearing?

This week, Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes is hearing arguments on whether the city of Detroit is eligible for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection. Both Governor Snyder and Detroit Emergency Manger Kevyn Orr have testified. They argue that bankruptcy is Detroit’s only path to solvency.

John Pottow weighed in on the matter on today's Stateside program. Pottow is professor of law at the University of Michigan who specializes in bankruptcy and consumer protection.

"I think the hardest issue about this is this Michigan constitutional provision about protecting the pensions," Pottow said. "This gets to what's animating the objectors and the unions is, why would the governor want to rush Detroit into bankruptcy? It's not what people generally clamor toward. And their concern is that because of this protection the workers have under the state constitution, that the governor might be trying to use the federal bankruptcy law as a way to get around the Michigan constitution."

Listen to the full interview above.

Newsmaker Interview
5:19 pm
Tue October 8, 2013

Shutdown slows U.S. Attorney's work in Michigan

Barbara McQuade is the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan.

A partial shutdown of the federal government shutdown is now in day eight. There doesn’t appear to be a resolution in sight which leaves over 800,000 federal employees out of work. That includes people at the U.S. Attorney General’s office in Detroit. Today we talk with Barbara McQuade, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan. Thirty out of almost 200 people are furloughed at her office. 

"That's having an impact on the litigation mission of our office. Most of our criminal litigators are still here handling criminal cases, but it's our civil docket that's really taking a hit," said McQuade.

"Our people are working without pay, which is having a big impact, as you can image, on morale. The people that are furloughed are not being paid, but even the people who are here working are not being paid."

Listen to the full interview above.

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