Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

Kalamazoo Mayor Bobby Hopewell
Kalamazoo Public Library

Kalamazoo has struggled with balancing its budget, and finding enough money to invest in new programs.

Mayor Bobby Hopewell wants to accept a private donation of $70 million to help balance the city’s budget, and partner with those donors to set up a foundation where other philanthropists can donate even more money.

Then, the city would be able to lean on those donated funds to pay for city services in the future.

Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine in Detroit.
Cheyna Roth / Michigan Radio

Senator Tim Kaine was in Detroit today. The running mate of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton spoke at the non-profit Focus: HOPE.

Kaine’s speech was mostly focused on Clinton’s plans for the economy and working to end poverty.

Part of Clinton and Kaine’s plan, he says, is to increase skilled and technical jobs. Kaine says it is especially important in places like Detroit.

Courtesy of Lena Epstein

She's Jewish. A woman. A millennial. And she supports Donald Trump for president. That's how Lena Epstein introduced herself in her recent opinion piece for the Washington Examiner.

Epstein is the third-generation owner and general manager of Vesco Oil Corporation in Southfield. She was one of Trump’s earliest supporters and is now co-chair for the Trump campaign in Michigan.

Democratic vice-presidential candidate Tim Kaine speaking earlier this year.
U.S. Department of Education

Michigan got yet another presidential campaign visit today. Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine was in Detroit.

Kaine spoke at Focus: HOPE.

Focus:HOPE is a nonprofit that works to fight racial injustice and poverty. Kaine talked about running mate Hillary Clinton’s plan to end poverty.

Watch his speech here:

Pence spoke to a packed house at the Macomb County Republican Party's Lincoln Day dinner.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

President Obama and Hillary Clinton have “weakened America’s status in the world” with their policies.

But a President Donald Trump would boldly reverse course, Indiana Governor and Vice Presidential hopeful Mike Pence told a crowd of Macomb County Republican loyalists Monday night.

Pence fired up a sold-out crowd at the Macomb County GOP’s annual Lincoln Day Dinner.

Pence said Clinton “literally personifies the failed status quo in Washington D.C.” He accused her of being the “architect” of policies that have led to a “weakened America and a stifled economy.”

Under Mayor Mike Duggan, Detroit has used federal anti-blight funds for an aggressive demolition campaign.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit’s rapid-fire demolition campaign under Mayor Mike Duggan was rife with questionable bidding practices and lacked major internal controls, according to state and federal reviews of that program.

That revelation emerged Monday, as the city announced the U.S. Treasury had released another $42 million in federal funds for the program.

But that funding had been suspended for two months, as the treasury department reviewed a Michigan State Housing Development Authority investigation.

Today, we hear why Donald Trump's message is hitting home in Macomb County. And, a geographer shows us why relying on ZIP codes led the state to mistakenly underestimate the lead in water problem in Flint. 

Savannah Halleaux


The United States Department of Agriculture is reaching out in a special way to women and minority farmers and growers in Michigan.

What’s behind this focus on “non-traditional” growers? And why is the USDA making its Michigan announcement in Flint?

USDA Farm Service Agency administrator Val Dolcini joined us today to talk about the USDA's push to reach out to these "non-traditional" producers, and some of the challenges facing today’s farmers and ranchers.


Changes could be in store for Michigan’s veterans’ services. 

A House and Senate joint committee heard testimony Monday about a package of bills that would create a new Michigan Veterans’ Facility Authority. The Authority would oversee new veteran facilities, and eventually, lawmakers hope, the entire Michigan Veteran Health System would go under the umbrella of the authority.

The legislation comes after an audit of the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans last February revealed persistent issues like staffing shortages and not following through on abuse complaints.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There are 7,495,216 people registered to vote in Michigan in the 2016 presidential elections. That’s more than 40,000 more than were registered in the last presidential election, according the Secretary of State’s Office. There are more voters registered now than in 2008, the previous record.

The deadline to register to vote in the November election was last week.

Some of the biggest registration surges came from counties with a large college-age population; Washtenaw, Ingham, Isabella, Marquette, and Kalamazoo counties.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Indiana Governor Mike Pence brings the campaign spotlight to Macomb County tonight. He'll be speaking at the Lincoln Day dinner in Shelby Township. Organizers say it’s the largest crowd in recent memory for the Lincoln Day dinner, and it’s proof that Macomb County is still fertile ground for the GOP message.

Trump merchandise
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A state Republican leader is losing her party position because she won’t back Republican nominee Donald Trump for president. Wendy Lynn Day was elected grassroots vice chair at a state party convention last year. In the role, she served as a liaison between the Republican Party and the tea party movement.

Day backed Senator Ted Cruz in the primary, but said she cannot support Trump, whom she does not consider a Republican.

There are three weeks to go until Election Day and Republicans are in despair, while Democrats are paranoid because no one is quite sure what the Donald Trump Effect will be on the ballot come November 8th.

It appears the Trump campaign is in a free fall, the statistical analysis website 538 now rates Trump’s chances of winning Michigan at 7.7 percent.

The Michigan House of Representatives in Lansing
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Michigan's House Democrats are looking to take control of the chamber this November, but that won't be easy.

The Democrats need to win at least 56 of 110 seats to have a House majority. They currently hold 46.

The Associated Press reports that the Democrats do have some advantages that should spur optimism going into the November election. 

More from the Associated Press:

Vice presidential candidates Republican Mike Pence (L) and Democrat Tim Kaine (R).
wikimedia commons

Both major party candidates for the next U.S. vice president plan campaign stops in Michigan this week.

Donald Trump’s running mate is up first. Indiana Governor Mike Pence is scheduled to headline a dinner hosted by the Macomb County Republican Party tonight.

Traditionally blue-collar Macomb remains one of Trump’s few bright spots in Michigan, where most recent polls show Hillary Clinton regaining a healthy lead, though none has her topping 50% of the total vote.

Clinton’s running mate, Virginia Senator Time Kaine, will pay a visit to Detroit Tuesday.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The Great Lakes Water Authority put $1.3 billion worth of bonds on the market last week.

It’s the first bond offering for the new regional authority, which emerged from Detroit’s bankruptcy process. It now provides wholesale water and services to millions of people across southeast Michigan.

About $1.1 billion of that will be used to refinance existing debt at a lower interest rate, says Nicolette Bateson, the GLWA’s Chief Financial Officer. She says that should produce almost $310 million in savings over the life of the bonds.

Michigan's 10th Congressional District.
United States Department of the Interior / Wikimedia Commons

Michigan’s 10th Congressional District stretches from the tip of the Thumb to northern Macomb County. 

Voters will choose between two candidates with relatively thin resumes in the District.

Businessman Paul Mitchell is making his second run for Congress. He ran two years ago in a different district in a different part of the state.  

When asked about that, this was his initial response.

“Turn that off for a second,” Mitchell asked for the recording to stop, “I have one question for you.”

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Two judges from the Detroit-area are challenging Michigan Supreme Court justices Joan Larsen and David Viviano.

  The two races are the most significant races for statewide office on the Nov. 8 ballot.

  Larsen was a law professor before she was appointed to the court last year by Gov. Rick Snyder. Viviano, a former Macomb County judge, has been on the Supreme Court since 2013. He, too, was appointed by Snyder.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Conditions are ideal for Democrats to bolster their ranks in the Michigan Legislature, but capturing a House majority to end Republican control of state government could be elusive.

  Democrats' advantages include higher voter turnout for the presidential election and the departure of dozens of Republicans who cannot run again under term limits. Democrats have gained House seats in every presidential contest since 2004.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

ST. IGNACE, Mich. (AP) - Presidential nominee Donald Trump is trying to put Michigan in the Republicans' corner for the first time in two dozen years by taking aim at trade deals and an economy that's left blue-collar workers behind.

Democrat Hillary Clinton says the billionaire businessman is no friend of workers because of using Chinese steel in his construction projects and opposing the auto bailout.

In the middle are voters, who say they're split over the candidates' trustworthiness.

Flint river
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Lawsuits keep piling up in the wake of the Flint water crisis. This Week in Review, Jack Lessenberry and I talk about a new complaint that calls for a grand jury criminal investigation into Gov. Rick Snyder's legal fees. We also talk about another challenge to Michigan's 180-day time limit on collecting petition signatures and upcoming visits from vice-presidential candidates Tim Kaine and Mike Pence.

Today, we hear that while concussions are very serious, there's a lot of misinformation and media hype out there. And, we learn that nearly a third of Michigan lawmakers are tied to secret corporate cash.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio


This week two stories were released about secretive funds benefiting Michigan legislators and the Republican and Democratic parties.

The stories were a joint investigation of MLive and the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.

Flickr user 401(K) 2012 / Creative Commons

The amount of money candidates in Michigan can get from special interest groups could get cut in half. That’s if a proposed bill finds its way through the legislature.

Currently these groups are allowed to donate ten times the amount of money an individual can. If the bill sponsored by State Representative Martin Howrylak  is passed, the donation limit would be reduced to five times the amount individuals can donate.

Craig Mauger is with the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, a nonpartisan organization.     

"For Republicans who have not distanced themselves from Trump, it may be too late," Demas told us.
flickr user Gage Skidmore / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0


It's the political roundup with Ken Sikkema and Susan Demas.

A new Detroit News and WDIV poll shows Republican candidate Donald Trump slipping and Democrat Hillary Clinton gaining in Michigan. Her lead has widened by nearly 12 percentage points.

This week Governor Snyder called the presidential election a “huge mess” and said Trump’s comments about women were “revolting and disgusting.”

While Republicans like Snyder - who never endorsed Trump - are speaking out, other Republicans have been defending Trump’s statements as merely “locker room talk.”

It’s hardly the first Trump-centric story we’ve seen throughout this election cycle, but according to Demas, this one is “kryptonite.”

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A garbage company involved in Flint’s trash pickup dispute is reportedly linked to a federal corruption probe in Macomb County.

The Detroit Free Press reports federal prosecutors believe a Clinton Township official was allegedly bribed by an official with Rizzo Environmental Services in an effort to get a multi-million-dollar garbage contract.

Rizzo issued a statement only saying the company is cooperating with federal officials.

Flint City Councilman Eric Mays (right) was escorted out of Thursday's special city council meeting on Flint's trash contract
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Flint city council is trying to get the city’s state oversight board to decide who should pick up Flint trash.

The council Thursday approved keeping Flint’s old garbage hauler on the job against the mayor’s wishes. The mayor’s chief of staff attended the meeting, but declined to comment. 

Council President Kerry Nelson says Republic is the best choice to empty Flint’s trash cans.

“There’s people that live in this city…that pay taxes…pay water bills….that work for Republic…I will not close the door on them,” says Nelson.

user jdurham / MorgueFile.com

According to data from the Michigan Secretary of State, 7,481,074 people statewide are registered to vote in the November election.

That’s a very slight uptick from the 2012 election cycle.

Nearly everyone of voting age in Michigan is registered to vote, due in large part to the state’s motor voter law. But not everyone votes. Only 63% cast ballots in the 2012 election.

Some local clerks kept their doors open late on Tuesday, which was the deadline to register.

Michigan State Police

The Michigan State Police is getting $2 million from the federal government.

The money comes from three grants earmarked for separate uses.

One grant will pay for overtime for the state police lab to test sexual assault kits. Money will also go to toward investigating cases that have been hung up in backlogs.   

Nancy Bennett is the division director for MSP’s grants and community services division.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The campaign to outlaw fracking in Michigan is asking the state Court of Appeals to strike down a 180-day time limit on collecting petition signatures to put a question on the ballot.

A law signed by Governor Rick Snyder in June says signatures that are older than 180 days can’t be counted. It’s very similar to a rule that was used before that by state elections officials.

That rule has twice now thwarted the anti-fracking campaign’s efforts to get a question before voters.