Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

The primary election for Grand Rapids' new mayor will take place next Tuesday
All photos courtesy of candidate Facebook pages

Grand Rapids voters will be electing their first new mayor in more than 10 years, and the primary is a week from tomorrow.

Current Mayor George Heartwell is being term-limited out after serving in office for more than a decade.

There is no stopping him.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump can’t stop talking. But, is that really such a bad thing for his fellow Republicans?

american flag and lgbt flag
Flickr user Praveen / Flickr

U.S. Senator Gary Peters wants service members who were forced out of the military for their sexual orientation to have their statuses upgraded.

Peters is co-sponsoring the Restore Honor to Service Members Act to help simplfy the process of getting a less-than-honorable discharge for being gay changed to honorable.

Church pew with hymnal
Bala Sivakumar / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Federal and local law enforcement officials are hosting a summit in Detroit on Monday to help area religious leaders make places of worship more secure.

The training session will focus on best practices during emergencies, including active shooter situations.

Attendees are also being encouraged to communicate more with each other, including making others aware of threats they've received or suspicious individuals.

Jason Lorenz / City of Flint

Along the mix of downtown buildings and neighborhoods filled with small single family homes, the city of Flint also has its share of mobile home parks.  

The trailer parks are the usual collection of mobile homes laid out in neat lines. But in some cases, it’s not so neat.

Flint has torn down thousands of old, dilapidated homes in the name of blight elimination.  The city is now turning its attention to its handful of trailer parks.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There’s less than two weeks before Flint’s primary for mayor. 

Today, another candidate jumped in the race. 

City councilwoman Monica Galloway was elected to the city council two years ago. Now she’s seeking the city’s top elected job.  

Today on Stateside:

Fiat Chrysler is rushing to assure customers that it does have a software fix to prevent hacking into the Jeep Cherokee and other vehicles, as demonstrated for Wired by two hackers. Paul Eisenstein joins us to talk about this development.

(Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

A union-led petition drive is trying to increase the state’s Corporate Income Tax rate from 6% to 11%. The revenue would be used to fix roads.

Increasing the rate by 5 percentage points would generate about $900 million a year toward Governor Rick Snyder’s goal of $1.2 billion in new revenue for road repairs. It would also be a major change to the 2011 business tax overhaul engineered by Snyder and Republicans in the Legislature.

The primary election for Grand Rapids' new mayor will take place next Tuesday
All photos courtesy of candidate Facebook pages

All four Grand Rapids mayoral candidates, Rosalynn Bliss, Robert Dean, John George and Willard participated in a town-hall style forum hosted by Michigan Radio, The Grand Rapids Press and the Michigan League of Conservation Voters at the Grand Rapids Public Museum.

Each candidate was given the opportunity to make an opening statement, followed by a question-and-answer session. The event was moderated by Zoe Clark, Executive Producer for Stateside on Michigan Radio, and questions will be asked by Lindsey Smith, Michigan Radio West Michigan reporter and Matt Vande Bunte, The Grand Rapids Press government reporter.

Today on Stateside:

What would things be like if the people of a community got to see and interact with their police officers in relaxed, friendly settings every day, and not just in crisis or crime? Kalamazoo’s Department of Public Safety is rolling out the Community Policing Special Unit to find out

Detroit turns 314 this week! The Detroit Drunken Historical Society is putting on Fête d'Anniversaire, a birthday party celebrating the folklore of Detroit’s French roots.

Minor league baseball is coming to Metro Detroit. Andy Appleby is the founder of the United Shore Professional Baseball League, and he joins us to talk about their plans in Utica.

This year, legendary producer, director and “king of B-movies” Roger Corman will receive the Michigan Filmmaker Award at the Traverse City Film Festival. He sits down with us today to talk about his life and career.

The music industry sure has changed a lot over the last half century, but one venue in downtown Ann Arbor has survived it all. The Ark is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and Michigan Radio’s Emily Fox brings us the story of how its leadership plans to keep it around for the next 50 years.

Governor Rick Snyder has affirmed a finding that Michigan's most-populated county is in a state of fiscal crisis.

The determination by the governor is the next step toward forcing the county to accept an agreement that includes big cuts to get to a structurally balanced budget.

The initial review was requested by Wayne County Executive Warren Evens, who says the county does not have to follow Detroit into emergency management and bankruptcy.

The Detroit City Council has reversed course and agreed to hike the city’s water and sewerage rates.

The Council voted 5-4 to approve a 7.5% increase Tuesday, after voting it down last month.

Thomas Hawk / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A state review team has confirmed a financial emergency in Wayne County.

The governor will have 10 days to decide whether he agrees that Wayne County is in dire straits. But no one expects the governor will take that long.

Today on Stateside:

Since the Great Recession, Michigan has seen unemployment numbers drop to their lowest level in a decade. Auto sales and profits are booming, construction is up, and houses are selling again. But the 2015 Kids Count Data Book out today finds the rising tide of recovery has not lifted all boats, especially here in Michigan.

Michigan has a 15% residential recycling rate, compared to 30% in neighboring states
flickr user Redwin Law / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

There’s a first-of-its-kind study happening in West Michigan that hopes to determine if we’re throwing away money each time we haul the trash to the curb.

Researchers are picking through landfills in Kent, Muskegon, and Ottawa counties, searching for recyclables that are getting tossed in the trash.

Kalamazoo Poem
Flickr User Joel Dinda / Creative Commons (http://bit.ly/1iowB8m)

Michigan last had a poet laureate in 1959, but a bipartisan bill introduced in the state House of Representatives is looking to change that.

U.S. Army photo Staff Sgt. Kimberly Bratic / Staff Sgt. Kimberly Bratic

A state lawmaker wants to require Michigan National Guardsmen to be armed when on duty, even if they are just staffing a recruiting office.

State Representative Gary Glenn says military personnel need to be ready at all times to defend themselves. 

“They’re trained to protect us.  They ought to be able to protect themselves,” says Glenn. 

Today on Stateside:

The Kalamazoo Promise is working, so why is it only in Kalamazoo? Jeff Degraff looks at what good the Promise has done, and tells about how much further it could be taken.

The University of Michigan has just opened a brand new testing facility for autonomous vehicles. Kevin DeSouza sits down to talk to us about the future and impact of self-driving vehicles.

Sen. Gary Peters and Cynthia Canty in the Stateside stdio
Amber Moon

Sen. Gary Peters, D-MI, has often reached out through the phone line to talk with us here on Stateside, but today he joined us in-studio to discuss petroleum coke, the Iran nuclear deal, the Export-Import Bank of the United States, and life as the only Democratic freshman in the U.S. Senate.

Updated story 4:38 PM:

So, there’s definitely no deal on road funding.

The state House and Senate floor managers have let it be known there will be no attendance taken and no roll call votes this week. After that the Michigan Legislature is on a break until mid-August.

Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority

The proposed new bridge linking Detroit and Windsor is taking an important step today.  

The Windsor Detroit Bridge Authority says it is asking for major contractors interested in building the multi-billion dollar Gordie Howe International Bridge to submit their qualifications.

DonaldJTrump.com

A Republican Party fundraiser in Michigan featuring Donald Trump is still scheduled despite his controversial remarks about a former prisoner of war.

The billionaire businessman-turned-presidential candidate angered many when he questioned whether U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) is actually a war hero.

McCain was captured by the North Vietnamese and spent five years as a POW. He says Trump owes an apology to  POW's

Tijl Vercaemer / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg says he can't support a new deal negotiated between Iran and six world powers – the U.S., the U.K., France, China, Russia, and Germany – because it gives Iran too much freedom to continue developing weapons and does not include a provision for the release of four U.S. citizens currently in Iranian prisons. One of those Americans is Amir Hekmati, a marine from Flint, Michigan, who has been in prison in Tehran for over three years on spying charges.

(Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The state House is scheduled to meet one day this week to try and reach a compromise on road funding.

If a deal doesn’t get done on Tuesday, talks may have to wait until the fall. The House is scheduled to begin a month-long break on Wednesday.

Money
User: penywise / MorgueFile

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell won't support a free-trade deal she says will harm the auto industry and Michigan's economy.

She's criticizing the Obama administration's Trans-Pacific Partnership on the basis that it doesn't address currency manipulation that keeps foreign currencies artificially low compared to the U.S. dollar. 

Catherine Shaffer / Michigan Radio

A  veterans fair in Washtenaw County today offered one-stop shopping for employment, counseling, health, and other services. About 20 groups participated in the event at Scio Township Hall. Michigan U.S. Reps. Tim Walberg and Debbie Dingell hosted the event. 

Organizations on hand to offer help included the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, the VFW Department of Michigan Service Office, the Washtenaw County Department of Veterans Affairs, Buddy-to-Buddy Volunteer Veteran Program, Michigan Operation Freedom Outdoors, and many more. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A union-sponsored poll shows little support for the city of Lansing to sell its electric utility.

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero suggested studying the idea of selling the Lansing Board of Water & Light as part of a potential solution to the capitol city’s hundreds of millions of dollars in unfunded health care and pension liabilities. The idea was first raised by a commission formed by the mayor to examine the city’s financial issues.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder says he hasn’t given up on getting a deal for more than a $1 billion in new road revenue through the Legislature. Lawmakers adjourned this week without voting on a roads package.

But, at an event in Detroit, the governor said he’s still confident a deal can come together in 2015.

Money
User: penywise / MorgueFile

The city of Detroit emerged from the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history last year. Now, Wayne County, where Detroit is located, finds itself facing about a $50 million structural deficit and unfunded pension liability estimated at $850 to $940 million.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s city council has been overruled by a state-appointed oversight board.

Yesterday, the Receivership Transition Advisory Board, or RTAB, approved a tax break for a downtown development project.  

Governor Snyder removed Flint’s emergency manager earlier this year, giving the city a greater degree of local control. But RTAB has final say. 

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