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Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

Campaign signs stacked against a wall in a union office.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Political parties are gearing up their “get-out-the-vote” efforts as the 2016 election enters its final days.

Unions have been a critical part of the Democratic Party’s get out the vote efforts for decades. This past week, union leaders held a get out the vote rally in Flint.

Becky Pringle is the vice president of the National Education Association. She says “they have work to do” convincing union families to support Hillary Clinton.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson spoke to a small but enthusiastic crowd in Detroit last night.

“Don’t vote for Trump ... Don’t vote for Clinton,” shouted Johnson to several hundred supporters gathered at Cobo Center.  

The crowd cheered Johnson’s calls for eliminating the U.S. Department of Education, dismantling the Department of Homeland Security and pardoning Edward Snowden. 

Before the rally, Gary Johnson told reporters his “small government” message is “resonating” with voters --  at least the ones his campaign is able to reach.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

 

The race for Michigan’s 7th Congressional District is one of the most competitive in the country. The two major-party candidates have both raised more than $2 million for their campaigns.

Gretchen Driskell, a former seven-term mayor of Saline and the a current member of the Michigan House of Representatives, is the challenger in the race. And although she’s running as a Democrat, she considers herself an independent.

“The groups behind [the calls] we know very little about," Mauger told us.
Public Domain / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 

Many of us can’t wait for this election year to be over. We’ve seen a lot of things we’ve never seen before, and little of it has been good.

That’s not limited to the presidential race. It’s happening all over Michigan in races for the state House of Representatives.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

 

Bridge Magazine and the Michigan Campaign Finance Network teamed up for an investigative report on votes in the Legislature that could easily be seen as self-serving.

These votes include:

  • The owner of a business that installs septic systems sponsored a bill that would grant emergency waivers from season vehicle weight limits on people who haul around septic systems.

  • The president of a real estate management company sponsoring a bill that would make it more difficult to sue landlords for damages arising from bedbug infestations.

  • A state senator telling a hometown newspaper he could not vote on a bill that came to the Senate floor because it would give his daughter, a judge, a raise. He then turned around and voted “yes” on the same bill when it returned to the Senate.

Today, we hear how Traverse City became a top destination for famous authors. And, we learn why the Boeing 747 once stationed at Willow Run Airport never flew a single flight.

user Gage Skidmore / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 

We’re 12 days out from Election Day.

Throughout the long months of campaign speeches, Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes believes both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have missed the mark in addressing an issue that is key to Michigan’s future.

In his column today, he wrote that the candidates and their surrogates are putting out a message that better fits the Carter era than the era of Apple and autonomous vehicles.

Mike Jackson feels that Proposal A could make Detroit less attractive to developers.
flickr user Ken Lund / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 

Detroiters will find two community benefits proposals on the ballot this Election Day.

A CBO would require developers who get public support for their projects, like tax breaks, to provide certain benefits to the community.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump claims there will be “large-scale voter fraud” this election. But election officials say they’re confident that will not be the case in Michigan. 

“We want to assure everyone, regardless of their political ideology or their partisan affiliation that their voice will be heard on election day and their voice will be counted,” said Fred Woodhams, a spokesman for Michigan’s Secretary of State.

Woodhams says this isn’t the first election he’s fielded these concerns, and guesses it won’t be the last.

Volunteers learn the ropes of poll watching during a meeting this week in Flint
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Training is underway this week in Michigan for people planning to be poll watchers during next month’s election.

Complaints of rigged voting and voter intimidation have spurred people to volunteer as poll watchers.

Veterans Day in Flint.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder signed a bill Wednesday that requires the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency, its successor agency, or the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) to send reports to the governor and Legislature four times a year. The reports must examine issues like timeliness of medication distribution, how patient’s money is accounted for, and staffing levels.

Representative Holly Hughes, R-White River Twp., was a sponsor of the bill. She said the reporting is necessary given the constant turnover in state government.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s elected leaders once again have the ability to file a lawsuit against the state for its handling of the city’s water crisis.

Today, the city’s state-appointed oversight board reversed a policy that effectively blocked the city from filing lawsuits.  

Back in March, Flint Mayor Karen Weaver filed a notice with the court, saying the city was potentially looking at suing the state of Michigan for decisions and mistakes made by state employees that led to Flint’s drinking water crisis.

Today, we discuss how much voice people should have in their neighborhood's development. Plus, we learn what Affordable Care Act premium increases mean for Michigan.

Voting sign.
flickr user justgrimes / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 

How much voice should people have about a development proposed for their neighborhood?

When a developer gets tax breaks or public funding, should the people living around that project get something?

Those questions are at the heart of a pair of a proposals in Detroit.The two competing community benefit ordinances, or CBOs, are on the November ballot.

"It’s not perfect, it does need to be fixed," said Udow-Phillips on the Affordable Care Act. "But it’s a place to start from.”
Flickr user/Images Money / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Word came from the federal government this week: premiums for popular health plans sold on healthcare.gov are going up an average of 25% next year.

And, depending on where you live, you may have fewer choices when shopping on the exchange.

Balloons drop at the 2012 Republican National Convention.
PBS NewsHour / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

In big election years like this one, the two major parties typically host election night parties where candidates and party officials gather to hopefully celebrate their victories.

But this year, there will be no big party for the Michigan Republican Party. 

More from Chad Livengood of the Detroit News:

Garbage truck in Flint.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

As expected, the Flint City Council last night approved a multi-million dollar, one-year contract for the city’s trash pick-up.

The city’s state oversight board is expected to give the deal its approval. The contract would pay Republic Services $3.7 million, and carries an option for an additional year.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver wanted to use a different company, Rizzo Environmental Services for the city's trash pickup. Councilman Scott Kincaid fought against Weaver to keep Republic Services on the job.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Kalamazoo City Commissioners voted Monday night in support of a public-private partnership they hope will stabilize the budget, lower property taxes and fund “aspirational projects” as early as next year.

The donation comes from two local businessmen and philanthropists. Both have ties to the Kalamazoo-based medical device manufacturing giant Stryker Corporation. One is heir to the Upjohn Company.

They’re offering the major donation to help stabilize Kalamazoo’s budget. The city was considering an income tax to help close a deficit.

Left: SUZANNA SHKRELI FOR CONGRESS/FACEBOOK Right: mikebishop.house.gov / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

President Obama is endorsing Democratic candidates for Congress, and a Michigan candidate is among them.

The president publicly endorsed 30 Congressional candidates Monday, including the 8th District’s Suzanna Shkreli.

Shkreli was a late addition to the ballot after actress Melissa Gilbert withdrew for health reasons in late May. She is hoping to unseat incumbent Republican Mike Bishop.

Shkreli says she thinks her focus on working class families grabbed the president’s attention.

“This whole election, it’s being rigged.” That’s the message coming from Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump. And, there are certainly some Trump supporters who believe it.

But, is there any truth to that claim? Can an election be rigged the way Trump seems to be suggesting?

Today we learn about Stingray, a surveillance device that gives law enforcement access to phones. And we explore how people talk about mental wellbeing, and the stigma that surrounds it.

According to Stephanie Lacambra, a cell-site simulator like the Stingray can gather data from all phones within a 200 to 500 meter radius.
Public Domain

 

Federal agents recently revealed that the key to tracking down a low-level accused drug dealer in Wayne County was a device that’s been used in the war on terror.

It’s called Stingray, and it helped police track down and arrest suspected drug dealer Daiven Hollinshed of Inkster.

We asked Michigan candidates running for Congress these 4 questions

Oct 24, 2016
Map of Michigan's congressional districts. Red highlighted districts are currently represented by a Republican while blue highlighted districts are currently represented by a Democrat.
Bryce Huffman / CartoDB.com

All 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are up for election on November 8th. Michigan holds 14 of those seats (at one time, Michigan held 19 seats in the House). Each congressional district has a population of approximately 710,000 people, according to the U.S. Census.

See the map below for the current makeup of Michigan's congressional districts. Hover over your area to see what district you live in, and click on your district to see who is running.

Longtime Progressive Activist Tom Hayden Dies At 76

Oct 24, 2016

Tom Hayden, a radical activist and advocate for progressive causes, died Sunday at the age of 76.

In the early 1960s, Hayden was a freedom rider in the South and a community organizer in Newark. He was a civil rights activist who became famous for his anti-war efforts and made several high-profile (and later controversial) trips to Vietnam. He was a founding member of the Students for a Democratic Society and wrote the first draft of the influential activist group's manifesto, the Port Huron Statement.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The Flint city council is expected to vote on a new trash pick-up contract Monday.

For weeks, two competing garbage hauling companies have been emptying Flint’s trash cans.   

Flint’s mayor and city council spent months arguing over which company should get the contract. A majority of the city council wanted to keep Republic Services. Mayor Karen Weaver insisted her choice, Rizzo Environmental Services, had a lower bid.

After weeks of court ordered negotiations, city leaders agreed to give Republic Services a one-year contract.  

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

There’s little more than two weeks left before the November 8 election.

Recent polls have shown Democrat Hillary Clinton holding a double-digit lead in Michigan.

Stephen Neuman is the senior adviser for the Michigan coordinated campaign. 

He says they are now looking to use those poll numbers to help Democrats down the ballot.

“We are working to include targeted House races, both targeted state House and congressional races, on the various scripts we use both on the phones and at the doors,” says Neuman.

FLICKR USER MATT PICIO / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Next month, voters in four southeastern counties will decide if they want to pay a new tax to fund a regional public transportation plan.

The 20-year transit millage will generate about $3 billion to pay for expanded bus service and light-rail train connections. The 1.2 mill tax rate would cost the average taxpayer about $120 annually.

Ned Staebler is with ‘Citizens for Connecting our Communities”. He says the campaign is stepping up its efforts in the final weeks before the election.

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

The last presidential debate is over, and a light is starting to appear at the end of the election season tunnel. This Week in Review, Jack Lessenberry and I talk about whether we'll see much more campaign action in Michigan before voters cast their ballots. We also discuss the ousting of the state Republican Party's grassroots chair over her refusal to back Donald Trump, and a big step toward financial health in Wayne County.


steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Next month, voters in Traverse City will decide if they should have a say whether there will be taller buildings in town.

The proposed charter change on the November 8th ballot would require a public vote on plans for buildings taller than 60 feet.

Jay Zelenock is with the group Save Our Downtown.  He says they are not opposed to new tall buildings.  But Zelenock says people in Traverse City are worried about the aesthetic of their community.  He also worries about tax breaks given to developers.

user cedarbenddrive/Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Governor Rick Snyder faces a decision soon on whether to sign or veto a bill he doesn’t like. It deals with how the state raises money for the Medicaid program. A plan adopted by the Legislature scraps a tax on health insurance claims. The bill would replace it with a complicated new funding system.

      

Snyder administration officials say the federal government would probably reject it, and deny the state many millions of Medicaid dollars. But legislative leaders want to push the issue.

      

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