Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

Detroit's downtown area, with multi-million dollar development, is thriving, while many of the city's neighborhoods and the schools continue to struggle.
Rich Evenhouse / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

Picture a tree. It has two branches. One bears green leaves. The other struggles to remain viable.

That tree is Detroit and those two branches represent the two very different narratives that we've seen play out this week.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes joined Stateside to talk about these two approaches to rebuilding the city of Detroit.

Donald Trump is lashing out against an African-American pastor who interrupted him Wednesday to chide him for campaigning in her Flint, Mich., church.

"Something was up," Trump told Fox and Friends on Thursday morning, calling the Rev. Faith Green Timmons a "nervous mess."

"I noticed she was so nervous when she introduced me," he said. "When she got up to introduce me she was so nervous, she was shaking. I said, wow, this is kind of strange. Then she came up. So she had that in mind, there's no question."

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The Freedom of Information Act could be changing in Michigan.

A House committee approved a bill Thursday that would prevent public bodies like the government from suing someone that requests information through a FOIA request. The bill is part of a larger attempt by lawmakers to make FOIA more transparent.

The bill comes after The Daily News in Greenville was sued when it asked Montcalm County during the August primaries for personnel files of some county sheriff candidates. This bill would prevent a lawsuit like this from ever occurring.

Stateside 9.15.2016

Sep 15, 2016

Today, we learn that hearing voices may, or may not, be associated with a mental health problem. And, we hear why it's crucial to give doctors more time to think about their patients' diagnoses. 

Work crew replacing a lead service line in Flint.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The U.S. Senate has approved a $10 billion water projects bill that includes money for Flint, Michigan - nearly a year after a public health emergency was first declared there because of lead-contaminated water.

Senators approved the bill by a 95-3 vote. It goes to the House, where approval of a similar bill - minus the Flint provision - is expected as soon as next week.

“The people of Flint have waited too long. They cannot wait any longer and we must take action,” U.S. Senator Gary Peters, D-MI, said today.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint residents will continue to drink water from Detroit well into next year.

While Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump was making the rounds in Flint on Wednesday, learning about the city’s drinking water crisis, the city’s state appointed oversight board quietly approved extending a deal that delivers fresh water from Detroit.

Flint switched back to Detroit water last fall.  The new extension will keep the water flowing through next Spring.

Medical marijuana bills headed to governor’s desk

Sep 14, 2016
user eljoja / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Big changes may be on the horizon for medical marijuana in Michigan.

Wednesday the State House voted in favor of a package of bills that would legalize edibles and require medical marijuana clinics be licensed and pay sales tax. The bills have already made their way through the Senate and are now on their way to Governor Rick Snyder’s desk for consideration.

The bills would require medical marijuana clinics be licensed and pay sales tax. The bills would also legalize non-smokable forms of marijuana like edibles and oils. 

Tracy Samilton/Michigan Radio

Emidio "Mimi" Soltysik says his run for president under the banner of the Socialist Party USA banner is more of an organizing project than a traditional campaign.

Soltysik described that project to a group of about 20 people at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor Wednesday night. With his calm and gentle demeanor, the former musician comes across more as a guru of socialism than a fiery revolutionary.

The purpose of his campaign is to get people "plugged in" to their communities, he says, not get the most votes possible.

Libertarian candidate for President Gary Johnson.
Gary Johnson for President 2016

Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson pitched his vision for the country to the Detroit Economic Club Wednesday.

Johnson is for limited federal government across the board — free trade, lower taxes, loosened drug laws, fewer immigration restrictions, and more judicious use of military power.

But Johnson says the government does have a role to play when it comes to providing basic protections for citizens.

Stateside 9.14.2016

Sep 14, 2016

Today, we discuss the "questionable" report of a Marine trainee's suicide. And, we hear how humans could soon leave the Holocene behind by pushing Earth into a new geological era. 

Dawud Walid told us that in his work in the civil rights field, "we're always skeptical about government investigating ... actions of its own members."
flickr user DVIDSHUB / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

This week, the Council on American-Islamic Relations called for the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department to launch an investigation in to Raheel Siddiqui's death. 

Siddiqui was a Pakistani-American Muslim who was 11 days into his basic training with the United States Marine Corps on Parris Island in South Carolina when he died. 

The Marines say the 20-year-old committed suicide by jumping 40 feet in a stairwell. Siddiqui's family says that's absolutely not the case. 

Raheel Siddiqui

The United States Marine Corps says a 20-year-old Taylor man committed suicide by jumping 40 feet in a stairwell. 

The family of Raheel Siddiqui says that's absolutely not the case.

Siddiqui was a Pakistani-American Muslim who was 11 days into his basic training on Parris Island in South Carolina when he died.

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics Jack Lessenberry and Doug Tribou look at Todd Courser's $160 million civil lawsuit, a rejected challenge to Michigan's emergency manager law and a push to stop local communities from regulating plastic grocery bags. Lessenberry and Tribou also talk about a WWE wrestler turned Republican nominee who's looking to pin down a seat in the Michigan House this November.


Ever since the Flint water crisis broke open this past January, Flint has been no stranger to visitors.

Politicians, movie stars, musicians, and media from all over the world have come to see the city stricken by lead-tainted water.

Now it's Donald Trump's turn to visit Flint.

Tracy Samilton

Some customers of Espresso Royale in Ann Arbor had to wait a little longer for their cappuccinos and lattes Tuesday afternoon, due to a stop there by Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine.

Kaine,with a sizeable contingent of local and national press at his heels, shook hands and chatted with customers, before ordering a cup of coffee and heading to a rally on the University of Michigan diag.

About 1,250 Clinton-Kaine loyalists gathered inside the gated area, and another 5,000 or so lined up farther out, according to a U of M event coordinator.

Stateside 9.13.2016

Sep 13, 2016

Today, we discuss the court ruling that upheld Michigan's emergency manager law. And, we learn what happens when parents disagree with schools over how best to teach kids with special needs.

Hammer told us he was "very disappointed" but "not surprised" with the appeals court ruling.
flickr user swskeptic / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A federal appeals court has upheld Michigan's emergency manager law.

The Sixth Circuit United States Court of Appeals says the law does not violate voting rights, and it does not racially discriminate. 

The court's opinion says there is no fundamental right to vote for local officials. It also says the state has a legitimate interest in fixing financially struggling local governments. 

In light of Monday's ruling, where does Michigan go from here?

Newly-arrived Syrian refugees in Oakland County, September 2015.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The question of Syrian refugee resettlement has reared its head in the Oakland County Executive’s race--in an ugly and disputed way.

Some Oakland County residents reported getting a polling call on Sunday, September 11th.

They included Vicki Barnett, the Democrat running for Oakland County Executive. She faces longtime Republican incumbent L. Brooks Patterson.

One of the questions accused Syrian refugees of committing numerous rapes and murders in Europe.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint is making progress on replacing lead service lines.

The pipes connect city water mains to homes and businesses. They're a primary source of lead in Flint’s tap water.

Earlier this year, the mayor’s Fast Start program sputtered, with just 33 lines being replaced.

Phase two of the program started again just before Labor Day.  

Stateside 9.12.2016

Sep 12, 2016

Today, we sit down with state House Speaker Kevin Cotter to explore some of the issues before the State House of Representatives. And, we learn how microlending can boost minority-owned business.

State House Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mount Pleasant
Michigan House Republicans

Summer vacation is now just a fond memory for students in Michigan's schools -- and our state lawmakers. 

We sat down today with state House Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mt. Pleasant, to explore some of the issues before the State House of Representatives. 

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Tomorrow, Flint Mayor Karen Weaver will be in Washington D.C. asking for federal help with the city’s lead tainted tap water.

Weaver says she’s scheduled to meet with Michigan’s congressional delegation.   

She says she’ll give the lawmakers an update on Flint’s lead service line replacement program and other needs.

Recently an EPA official predicted Flint residents might have to use water filters for at least another year because of the lingering lead problem. Weaver says that opinion should strengthen Flint’s case for federal funds.

From left: Michigan NAACP President Yvonne White, national NAACP President Cornell Brooks, and Flint Mayor Karen Weaver.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Michigan chapters of the NAACP met in Detroit for the group’s 80th statewide convention this weekend.

The historic group talked strategies to confront current civil rights challenges, that range from police brutality and criminal justice reform, to state laws that limit voting rights.

National NAACP President Cornell Brooks, who spoke at the Michigan conference, called 2016 a "critical year" for the modern civil rights and racial justice movements, as well as a critical election year.

Democrats in Michigan are breathing a sigh of relief now that the fight over straight-ticket voting in Michigan is over. For now, at least.

The U.S. Supreme Court torpedoed Republican efforts on Friday to deep-six a Democratic advantage in the Michigan election process.

Stateside 9.9.2016

Sep 9, 2016

Today, we hear an expert explain why closing Michigan's lowest-performing schools likely wouldn't benefit students. And, our Artisans of Michigan series continues with the making of Windsor chairs.

Students rally in Lansing
Fflickr user swskeptic/Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Michigan Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence held a so-called "die in" Wednesday at the Capitol in Lansing, calling on the Legislature to craft stronger gun laws. 

Ken Sikkema and Susan Demas joined us to talk about the demonstration, and how much of an effect protests like this really have on the way our lawmakers think.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Lately, there have been a lot of allegations of funny business within American politics. 

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has repeatedly said that the elections could be rigged. And there have been a lot of concerns that the Russians hacked the Democratic Party's emails. 

The next logical question for many people is, if both those things are true, what's to keep the election results from being hacked?

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission is getting down to work on a final report on the Flint water crisis.

The process began roughly nine months ago when the commission decided to examine what factors may have contributed to the crisis. 

On Thursday, the commission held its third and final public hearing into allegations that classism and racism were root causes of the city’s lead-tainted drinking water.

Commission co-chair Arthur Horwitz says now the important work begins, putting together their findings in a final report.

Stateside 9.8.2016

Sep 8, 2016

Today, we hear how saving your stem cells could help you in old age. And, we learn about an Algonac teacher's plan to move into a Habitat for Humanity home.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Retired Brigadier General Michael McDaniel was appointed to lead the effort to get lead water pipes out of Flint. 

That was back in February. 

Here we are, seven months later, and McDaniel has yet to be paid one thin dime for his work.