Politics & Government

Politics & Government
11:59 am
Sat June 14, 2014

Flint's budget process: meaningless or transitional?

The proposed Flint city budget would eliminate 55 public safety positions.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Some Flint city council members and residents are expressing frustration with the way the city’s emergency manager is handling the creation of next year’s budget.

“We deserve better,” said one of the dozens of Flint residents who turned out for a public hearing on the proposed two-year city budget Monday night. 

The plan includes eliminating 36 police positions and 19 firefighter jobs. The budget also calls for raising Flint’s already high water and sewer rates by 6% a year for each of the next two years.

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Politics & Government
8:59 am
Sat June 14, 2014

Lessenberry says it was a week of sad triumph of the absurd

Credit Matt Kemberling / flickr

This Week in Review, Jack Lessenberry and Rina Miller discuss three failures of the week: roads funding, Head Start in Detroit and goats in the Motor City.

Week in Review interview for 6/13/14

Politics & Government
10:42 pm
Fri June 13, 2014

Military drones to be protested in Battle Creek Saturday

Battle Creek ANGB has been part of the U.S. Air Force's Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) MQ9 Reaper Mission since 2013.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Peace activists plan to rally against the nation’s military drone program outside the gates of the Battle Creek Air National Guard base on Saturday.

Just this week, a pair of U.S. drone attacks killed sixteen people in Pakistan.  It’s the first attacks this year.     

Brian Terrell is with Voices for Creative Nonviolence.   He says the drone program is being abused.

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Politics & Government
2:44 pm
Fri June 13, 2014

Allen Park close to selling site of failed film studio project

An artist's rendering of the Unity Village development in Allen Park. The project never materialized after the developer walked away.

A New York-based developer has agreed to buy the site of a disastrous movie studio project that pushed Allen Park to the brink of bankruptcy.

The downriver Detroit suburb bought the 104-acre complex specifically for the project known as Unity Studios.

But the developer walked away after a year –after Allen Park had issued $25.5 million in bonds to support Unity Studios.

That debt eventually led to the state taking control of the city’s finances.

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It's Just Politics
1:34 pm
Fri June 13, 2014

Here’s why the state Senate couldn’t pass road funding

It's Just Politics with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta

It's Just Politics with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta

"Unfortunately, this is an issue that I would admit there are too much politics going on." That was Gov. Rick Snyder last night, after it became clear that a major roads funding package was not going to get passed in the state Senate.

"...If we were sitting at the kitchen table as a big family,” he continued, “and you looked at this issue, we would have solved this problem.”

Sure. Or our big family would fight about who wrecked the roads in the first place and that it was your fault – you and your big truck – which is why we can’t have nice roads and don’t you know I have a primary and, by the way, I haven’t forgotten who wrecked the roads that you won’t fix because you should.

But, we digress.

There were a lot of reasons why this road-funding deal failed to come together, despite some recent instances of actual bipartisanship, like increasing the state’s minimum wage and the Detroit rescue package. But those were exceptions in this era of Republican hegemony in Lansing.

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Politics & Government
8:55 am
Fri June 13, 2014

Michigan lawmakers fail to come up with a plan to fix the roads, will try again later

Pothole.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Legislation to fix Michigan’s crumbling roads will have to wait until lawmakers return from their summer break.

The state Senate failed multiple times this week to pass comprehensive road spending plans – and even rejected legislation that would make structural changes to the system, but keep funding at or near current levels.

Now, lawmakers have left Lansing and probably won’t hold any more votes until August or September.

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Weekly Political Roundup
4:48 pm
Thu June 12, 2014

Why has it been so difficult to get consensus on a funding package?

Credit user cedarbenddrive / Flickr

    

The intense Michigan winter has put roads funding at the top of the legislative agenda. Things lagged for the past few months but began to heat up as the Legislature prepares for summer break which begins next week.

Why has it been so difficult to get consensus on a funding package?  

Today we talk Michigan politics with Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics.

Listen to the interview above.

Politics & Government
4:04 pm
Thu June 12, 2014

Remember that plan for a part-time legislature for Michigan?

Capitol dome in Lansing.
Joe Dearman Flickr

Yeah, it's dead, and petition organizers partly blame what we are still talking about in Michigan: the freezing cold winter.

More from Jonathan Oosting from MLive:

Chairman Norm Kammeraad said an unusually cold winter made it difficult for the group to collect 322,609 (signatures) by July 7 in order to put a constitutional amendment on the fall ballot.

"Every time we hit the field with these things, we were overwhelmed by people who wanted to sign them," Kammeraad said Tuesday evening. "It was just phenomenal. Problem is, we couldn't get organized enough because of the weather."

Kammeraad, the chair of the Committee to Restore Michigan’s Part-time Legislature, also blamed "elite Republicans" for coming up short.

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Stateside
3:18 pm
Thu June 12, 2014

Stateside for Thursday, June 12, 2014

Here's what we talked about on Stateside today:

· Attempts in the state Senate to come up with more than a billion dollars a year to fix roads fell apart last night, after lawmakers spent 15 hours in session. They only have one more day before summer campaigning.

· One couple’s attempts to live off the grid were almost foiled after local officials said their living arrangements were against the public health code.

· Two Michigan destinations made the top 10 , but there are plenty of other spots that are underappreciated.

· A study looks into the future of high-speed rail in the United States and the future of transportation. 

· The unemployment rates of teens for the summer hit 26.5%. How much does this matter to Michigan’s economy and the teenagers?

*Listen to full show above. 

Politics & Government
1:07 pm
Thu June 12, 2014

Reporters got a little slaphappy as Michigan lawmakers failed at fixing the roads

Not any of the reporters. Just a tired person.
Credit taholtorf.wordpress.com

Lawmakers in the Michigan Senate stayed up late into the night last night to try to get a road funding deal done.

They failed.

As the night wore on, and the failed votes piled up, reporters watching the proceedings grew tired and took to Twitter to vent their exasperation.

See how it unfolded in the Storify below (or view it here):

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Stateside
12:57 pm
Thu June 12, 2014

15 hours later, lawmakers still don't have a plan for road funding

Credit Michigan Municipal League / Flickr

After 15 hours in session, the state Senate failed to come up with a plan for more than a billion dollars a year to fix roads.

Today is the last day to come up with a solution before lawmakers leave town to start summer campaigning.

President and CEO of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, Rich Studley, said the Chamber is pushing for lawmakers to come up with almost $1.6 billion in road funding.

Studley said the governor put forward a plan to invest $1.2 billion, and the state House has approved a plan to reallocate $450 million into road funding.

A statewide public poll showed that motorists are strongly in favor of fixing the roads and are willing to pay for it.

Studley said there is no good reason for the Legislature to recess for the summer.

“Our message is stay in session and do your job,” Studley said. “While Michigan lawmakers have been talking about this issue, virtually every other state in the country has tackled this problem.”

Studley added that for every year the state doesn’t take action, the state loses almost $100 million in value with deteriorating roads and bridges.  

“Michigan’s motorists now in effect pay an inaction tax of over $300 a year in unnecessary road repairs,” Studley said.

*Listen to the full interview above.

– Bre’Anna Tinsley, Michigan Radio Newsroom.

Politics & Government
9:27 pm
Wed June 11, 2014

Detroit water rates headed up, as department's future remains in limbo

A DWSD interceptor sewer line during construction in 2001. This line is north of Detroit in the Clinton River watershed
Credit Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Detroit Water and Sewerage Department officials say they’re working to put the system on sound financial footing – including raising rates and shutting off service to thousands of households.

Water department officials briefed the Detroit City Council on planned rate hikes Tuesday.

They propose hiking the typical Detroit residential customer’s water bill by 8.7% to 10.4%.

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Stateside
7:37 pm
Wed June 11, 2014

Do you think two signatures are enough to approve state business incentives?

Credit User: Daniel Kulinski / Flickr

One state lawmaker says it's "like controlling very large purse strings with very little accountability."

Since 2011, more than $65 million in state money has been awarded to businesses all around Michigan, all on the signatures of just two individuals.

Is this a worrisome lack of transparency? Or a good effort by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to be nimble, to be able to get state incentives into the hands of businesses to help them grow and strengthen Michigan's economy?

Chris Gautz reported on this for Crain's Detroit Business.

*Listen to full interview above. 

Stateside
6:22 pm
Wed June 11, 2014

Stateside for Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Here's what we covered on today's Stateside:

  • An internal Veterans Affairs audit reveals more than 120,000 veterans are waiting too long for care at the VA. Here in Michigan, 3 VA facilities have been selected for a closer look. For today’s show, we asked our guests what might be happening at those facilities.
  • Since 2011, more than $65 million in state money has been awarded to businesses all around Michigan, all on the signatures of just two individuals. Chris Gautz from Crain's Detroit Business joined us today to discuss the MEDC.
  • Tobacco giant Phillip Morris faced some tough competition from Kool cigarettes in the 1970s. An investigative journalist told us what he found out, and why the brand was overwhelmingly popular with African Americans, especially in Detroit.
  • Also, scenes that might appear in a disaster movie are happening along the Great Lakes. Huge, freak waves have raced ashore and pulled people out into the lake, leaving drowned victims in their wake.
  • Detroit Public Schools blew a deadline and missed out on $4 million in Head Start funding. We asked our guests what can be done now.
  • Grand Valley State University is asking if higher education is becoming too politicized. They will hold a three-day summit to explore this issue.
  • And we'll get tips from a garage sale veteran: how to get the best results and the most money out of your garage sale.

Politics & Government
5:32 pm
Wed June 11, 2014

Lansing casino project moves ahead

The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians has formally asked the U.S. Department of the Interior to take some small parcels of land around Lansing’s downtown convention center into trust.
Credit Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians

An Upper Peninsula Indian tribe has taken a major step toward building a casino in Lansing.

The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians Tuesday formally asked the U.S. Department of the Interior to take land surrounding Lansing’s downtown convention center into trust.

The tribe bought the land for a $245 million casino. But before the casino can be built, the federal government must first take the land into trust.

Tribal officials say the Interior Department could act on the request in a few weeks.

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Breaking
4:36 pm
Wed June 11, 2014

Plan for a sales tax hike to repair Michigan's roads fails

Credit Peter Ito / flickr

A plan to ask voters to approve a 1% sales tax hike to help fix Michigan's roads has been defeated in the state Senate.

The proposal was expected to raise about $1.3 billion a year if approved by lawmakers and voters.

The resolution failed by a wide margin, 14-24. It would have needed 26 'yes' votes to pass.

The Senate is expected to take up a number of other road funding bills this afternoon. A plan to increase the state's gas tax to raise more than $1.4 billion a year is expected to come up for a vote later today.

Politics & Government
1:25 pm
Wed June 11, 2014

More money pledged to protect art in Detroit bankruptcy

The Detroit Institute of Arts.
Credit Detroit Institute of Arts

The Detroit Institute of Arts is getting more help raising money for its share of the deal meant to shield its collection from possible liquidation.

The New York-based Mellon Foundation and Los Angeles-based J. Paul Getty Trust have committed a combined $13 million toward the “grand bargain.”

That proposal would direct more than $800 million to Detroit’s pension funds--sparing pensioners from severe cuts, while legally safeguarding the DIA’s assets from being sold to pay off city creditors.

The DIA needs to come up with a $100 million contribution to the grand bargain, this new commitment puts them more than 80% of the way there.

Getty Trust President and CEO James Cuno says the two foundations made a decision to contribute on their own.

“We jointly made the commitment,” Cuno says. “There was no conversation with the DIA about it, no request from the DIA.”

Cuno says the donation reflects the North American art world’s support for maintaining the DIA’s collection as a civic institution and public resource “in perpetuity.”

If put up for sale, the collection “would be lost to private individuals around the world,” Cuno says. “And the public of Detroit, and surrounding suburbs, would be deprived of a public resource they once had.”

Cuno says it’s “too soon to tell” whether the money will be disbursed to the museum as a lump sum upfront, or spread out over a period of years. Donors and museum officials are waiting for the larger grand bargain to be finalized.

Earlier this week, Detroit’s 3 automakers pledged a combined $26 million toward the DIA’s contribution.

Judge Steven Rhodes has set an Aug. 14 trial on Detroit's plan to get out of bankruptcy.

Politics & Government
8:52 am
Wed June 11, 2014

This week in Michigan politics: Roads and education

Credit user frank juarez / Flickr

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry and Christina Shockley discuss roads funding in the final days before lawmakers leave for the summer, the expansion of the Kalamazoo Promise scholarship and why Detroit is missing out on Head Start next year.

Week in Michigan Politics interview for 6/11/14

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Politics & Government
6:13 am
Wed June 11, 2014

Right-to-work part of discussions on roads package

Credit Matthileo / Flickr

Negotiations between Republicans and Democrats at the state Capitol over road funding may have resurrected the controversy over Michigan’s right-to-work law.

There’s a lot of deal-making happening in Lansing as the Legislature enters the final days before its summer recess. The two biggest issues are finishing the state budget, and coming up with more than $1.2 billion new dollars a year for roads – Governor Rick Snyder’s top priority before lawmakers leave Lansing.

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Politics & Government
6:04 pm
Tue June 10, 2014

Michigan film incentives to stay at $50 million, Senate leader wants more

Credit Ariel Dovas

The top Republican in the state Senate says he’s not satisfied with the amount of money lawmakers have set aside for film and TV productions.

The Legislature is expected to wrap up a state budget this week. It will include $50 million in film incentives. That’s the same as last year, but half of that money is now slated to continue into future budgets.

Gov. Rick Snyder has sought to cut the film incentives since he took office in 2011. He says the state can make better investments that create more of an economic return.

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