Politics & Government

Stateside
5:23 pm
Tue June 10, 2014

Stateside for Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Heroin use in Michigan is on the rise. That's as many addicts shift from more expensive and harder-to-get prescription drugs to heroin, a cheaper alternative.

Then, big news from the Kalamazoo Promise. The program that offers free college to almost all the city's high schoolers is expanding to include more than a dozen private colleges and universities. We asked what this could mean for future Kalamazoo graduates.

Also, no goats allowed in Detroit. A herd of goats has been evicted from weedy lots that the city of Detroit owns.

But first...

Hear that? That ticking? That's the budget clock in Lansing.

State lawmakers want to get out of the Capitol to start campaigning in their districts, and that means there are only three session days left to wrap up work on the state budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

Some big issues have been tackled, but there are big ones still up in the air.

*Listen to full show above. 

Politics & Culture
9:44 pm
Mon June 9, 2014

Stateside for Monday, June 9, 2014

Picture an alley. You're probably thinking of a run-down, grimy, narrow pathway between buildings. But in urban areas across the country, that picture is changing.

Urban alleys are becoming microcosms for urban redevelopment, and today on Stateside, we’ll hear how Detroit is no exception. Then, later in the hour, we find out what's keeping some homeless people in Michigan from accessing the services they need.

Also, thoughts from a dad on #YesAllWomen. And research that suggests your sense of taste might affect how long you live.

But first, Ford, General Motors and the Chrysler Group – who know a thing or two about perilous times and near-death experiences – today offered a $26 million helping hand to the Detroit Institute of Arts.

*Listen to full show above. 

Stateside
9:14 pm
Mon June 9, 2014

Detroit automakers say they'll kick in $26 million for DIA's part of the "grand bargain"

The Detroit Institute of Arts.
Credit Flickr

Detroit automakers say they will give $26 million to the Detroit Institute of Arts, to go toward toward the "grand bargain," an effort to hasten Detroit's trip through bankruptcy.

Ford and General Motors will each contribute $10 million and Chrysler offered $6 million.

How the money will be distributed, whether in a lump sum or over the course of 20 years, is still in the air. The DIA says it will raise $100 million toward the grand bargain, and that it has already secured commitments for $70 million

Michigan Radio’s Detroit reporter Sarah Cwiek says automakers and auto families have a long history of supporting the DIA. Cwiek also says there is a subtle, but persistent, expectation that the automakers will contribute because they got a helping hand in the past.

Pensioners are voting whether they want the grand bargain; Cwiek says its not clear if the automakers' contributions will have any effect on the votes. 

*Listen to full interview above. 

Politics & Government
5:59 pm
Mon June 9, 2014

Crime in Detroit has declined, but what can we do to keep it down?

Credit Peter Martorano / Flickr

Violent and property crime in Detroit dropped 25% in the first quarter of this year. However, Carl Taylor, a sociology professor at Michigan State University and native Detroiter, says the statistics don’t really reflect what is going on. He added that there's still a lot a crime that's going unreported.

The question Cynthia Canty asked on today’s Stateside was, “What can we do to keep crime declining?”

Taylor said what Detroit needs most is better prevention. Detroit needs more police officers, stronger schools, more jobs, and a closer look at mental health, Taylor says, adding that poverty also has a big impact on crime.

Taylor said that it is possible to keep a steady decline of crime in the city.

“We have to have the citizens, we have to have the resources, and we have to have an attitude change,” Taylor said.

*Listen to full interview in link above.

– Bre’Anna Tinsley, Michigan Radio Newsroom.

Politics & Government
3:20 pm
Mon June 9, 2014

Nation's automakers pitch in $26 million to Detroit's bankruptcy reorganization

Reid Bigland of Chrysler speaks at the media event announcing that U.S. automakers will contribute to the 'grand bargain.' Bigland is standing in front of one of the famous Diego River murals at the DIA.
Credit Reem Nasr / Michigan Radio

It seems momentum behind Detroit's municipal bankruptcy reorganization continues to build. If the momentum continues, the city could emerge from bankruptcy this fall.

Today, General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler pledged to contribute a combined $26 million to a deal aimed at reducing cuts to Detroit pensioners while preserving the art collection at the Detroit Institute of Arts (part of the collection has been talked about as a city asset that could be sold to satisfy Detroit's creditors).

The money from the automakers will go into large pot of money – more than $800 million – collectively known as the "grand bargain."

So far, money for the grand bargain is coming from private philanthropists, foundations, the state of Michigan, and money raised by the DIA itself. The automakers' money will be counted toward the DIA's goal of $100 million.

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Politics & Government
12:05 pm
Mon June 9, 2014

Visas for sale: Not everyone’s a fan of Gov. Snyder’s EB-5 center

Credit User: Nic Redhead / Flickr

Silverio Lopez and his son Antonio run their Tequila Cabresto brand out of their house in Southwest Detroit. They say about 60 restaurants in and around the city carry their brand of small batch, craft tequila. They also own a rim and tire shop just down the street. In total, they employ close to 10 people.

Silverio emigrated from Mexico in the early '80s. He says there were many reasons for settling down and starting a business in Detroit.

“The properties were cheap, the rent was cheaper, plus we had family here already,” he said through Antonio, who translated from Spanish.

The Lopez family exemplifies the kind of people Gov. Rick Snyder hopes to attract to Michigan – people with an entrepreneurial spirit who can create jobs.

But some critics of the governor’s new EB-5 visa program say it’s a slap in the face to immigrants like Silverio Lopez, who came here with nothing.

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Politics & Government
10:44 am
Sat June 7, 2014

Meth production targeted by Michigan lawmakers

Rep. John Kivela of Marquette says meth abuse is "a scourge in mainly rural areas" of Michigan. He says the bills try to keep over-the-counter drugs out of the wrong hands.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan lawmakers are trying to curb methamphetamine use by making it harder for certain people to buy its main ingredients.

The House passed bipartisan legislation Thursday to use a database to stop the sale of ephedrine or pseudoephedrine to people with meth convictions. The drugs are most commonly found in over-the-counter cough and cold medicines.

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Politics & Government
8:46 am
Sat June 7, 2014

The week in review: GM, a grand bargain, and pothole limbo

Credit user paul (dex) / Flickr

This Week in Review, Jack Lessenberry and Rina Miller discuss General Motor's CEO Mary Barra's response to the investigation of the faulty ignition switch recalls, what happens now for Detroit after the state agreed to give the city $195 million, and an update on road funding.

Week in Review interview for 6/6/14

It's Just Politics
1:52 pm
Fri June 6, 2014

Why presidential politics could stall a deal in Lansing to fix our roads

It's Just Politics with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta

It's Just Politics with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta

With money to fix roads hanging in the balance, presidential politics could stand in the way of the new trend of bipartisan action on big, controversial issues.

But, really, any notion that there’s a new era of bipartisanship at the state Capitol should be shelved, despite the Democratic and Republican coalitions in the Legislature that pushed through deals on increasing the minimum wage and the Detroit rescue package. And that’s because each was an anomaly that brought Democrats to the bargaining table in Republican-controlled Lansing.

When you break down the Detroit votes, for example, you see two very different pictures in the House and in the Senate. In the House, almost all the Republicans voted for the rescue. A few Democrats were the holdouts. In the Senate, Democrats made up the difference as most Republicans -- 16 out of 26 -- voted “no” on the main bills in the Detroit package.

What this says is the parameters of each deal were different (even when we’re talking about the exact same legislation) depending on whether it’s the House or the Senate.  For example, a larger proportion of the Republicans in the Senate have serious primaries.

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Politics & Government
6:00 am
Fri June 6, 2014

"Grand bargain" moves forward with Detroit City Council vote to transfer DIA assets

Credit via Detroit Institute of Arts

The city of Detroit moved to finalize its end of the “grand bargain” Thursday, as the Detroit City Council voted to transfer the Detroit Institute of Arts’ assets to a public trust.

This week, Lansing lawmakers approved $195 million toward the $816 million grand bargain – a linchpin of Detroit’s bankruptcy restructuring plan.

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Stateside
6:27 pm
Thu June 5, 2014

Detroit wins "grand bargain," but questions remain

Credit (photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

It was a big win for Detroit's bankruptcy struggle when the state Senate approved that $195 million rescue package earlier this week. That vote "sealed the deal" on the state's piece of the so-called "grand bargain."

But is the complicated and precarious deal a reality yet?

As Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes explained on the show today, the answer is "no."

*Listen to the full interview above. 

Stateside
6:24 pm
Thu June 5, 2014

Green Party of Michigan holds election this weekend

Supporters of the Michigan Green Party visit the Detroit Water & Sewerage Department.
Credit Michigan Green Party / Facebook

It might be fair to say the Green Party in Michigan is a little like Rodney Dangerfield: Can't get no respect.

But the party is holding its nominating convention this weekend. It's a reminder that we do have an alternative to the Democrat and Republican parties in the state.

Fred Vitale, chairperson for the Green Party of Michigan, joined us on Stateside today.

He explained what the Green Party platform is based on and how issues such as ecological wisdom and social justice should be the focus for the upcoming election season.

Vitale also talked about how the Green Party can realistically have an impact on politics in Michigan.

*Listen to the full interview above.

Stateside
6:21 pm
Thu June 5, 2014

A 40-mile piggyback ride to raise awareness for kids with special needs

Credit User: lorenz kerscher / Wikipedia

Hunter Gandee will go for a walk this weekend.

That might not seem noteworthy. You might be planning on doing the same.

But starting Saturday morning, the 14-year-old from Temperance plans to walk 40 miles, from his home to the University of Michigan campus, carrying his 7-year-old brother, Braden, on his back the entire way.

Braden has cerebral palsy, and his walker doesn't move well on grass, sandy areas or in crowds.

Hunter isn't walking to raise money, but to focus attention on the problem of mobility for kids with special needs.

*Listen to our conversation with Hunter above.

Politics & Culture
6:18 pm
Thu June 5, 2014

New report gathers opinions on fracking in Michigan

Credit Eusko Jaurlaritza / Flickr

What do the people who run Michigan's towns and cities think about the prospect of high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking" in or near their communities?

A new report from the University of Michigan's Center for Local, State and Urban Policy looks into that question.

In Michigan, only a handful of communities report some type of high-volume fracking operation. It's the controversial process used to extract natural gas by drilling into shale deposits.

The center’s program director, Tom Ivacko, joined us to talk about the results.

*Listen to the interview above.

Politics & Culture
6:09 pm
Thu June 5, 2014

Stateside for Thursday, June 5, 2014

Donkeys versus elephants. Republicans versus Democrats. The two-party system in the U.S. tends to get most of our attention, but today we heard from the Green Party of Michigan, as they're holding their convention this weekend and pushing their agenda.

Then we heard why a 14-year-old boy from Temperance, Michigan, is planning to walk 40 miles this weekend from Bedford to Ann Arbor. He plans to carry his younger brother on his back.

And George Patton's granddaughter is mixing "99 Luftballons" with a little "White Cliffs of Dover" for a special concert to mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

Also on today's show, we dug into new numbers about how local leaders in Michigan feel about hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking." It's an issue that will certainly make its way into the 2014 election season.

But first on today's show – two words: “We failed.”

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Politics & Government
6:21 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

Road funding talks in flux at state Capitol

Credit WFIU Public Radio / Creative Commons

It looked like there might be a wave of bipartisan cooperation in Lansing. Lawmakers recently voted to raise the state’s minimum wage and contribute almost $200 million to help Detroit emerge from bankruptcy.

But that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore with road funding negotiations in flux.

State lawmakers want to find a way to increase funding for roads in the next couple weeks. That’s when they leave Lansing for the summer.

Read more
Politics & Government
6:14 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

Syrian activists read names of the dead: "Silence only keeps the killing machine going"

Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The conflict in Syria has faded from the headlines—but the country’s brutal war continues.

Protesters in Detroit and cities across the globe tried to get that message out Tuesday, by reading aloud the names of 100,000 people killed in the conflict.

Members of Michigan’s Syrian community and their supporters chose the Underground Railroad monument on the Detroit Riverwalk for their remembrance.

Jihad al-Harash is from Damascus, but has been living in Michigan since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began in 2011.

Read more
Politics & Culture
5:46 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

Stateside for Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Legislation to give almost $200 million to Detroit’s bankruptcy settlement is on its way to Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk, after the state Senate approved the measures yesterday. So, how'd we get here? Where do we go next?

Also, on Stateside it was 25 years ago today that Chinese security forces turned on student protestors in Tiananmen Square. We spoke to a Michigan man who was in Beijing leading up to that day.

The U.S Coast Guard has issued a permit to build a new bridge that connects Detroit to Windsor.

But first on Stateside, Herbert Hoover was president when a law was passed in Michigan that made panhandling a criminal misdemeanor.

That 1929 law stood until last September. That's when the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the law, saying it trampled on the rights of free speech.

Police in Grand Rapids made vigorous use of that now-overturned law, arresting hundreds over the years for panhandling.

With the state law overturned, Grand Rapids and other cities have been trying to figure out how to keep a lid on  aggressive panhandling, while still respecting the constitutional right to free speech.

Last night, the Grand Rapids City Commission had a meeting on proposed changes to local ordinances.

Michigan Radio's West Michigan reporter Lindsey Smith spoke with Stateside. 

*Listen to full show above. 

Politics & Government
5:43 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

25 years later, majority of Tiananmen Square prisoners released, except maybe one

Credit Robert Croma / Flickr

Twenty-five years ago, Tiananmen Square in central Beijing was the focus of pro-democracy demonstrations. Crowds of protesters, including students and factory workers, camped out in the square for weeks.

But when the Chinese security forces made their decisive move, hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of people were killed.

Hundreds were given lengthy prison sentences. Twenty-five years later, the vast majority have been released. However, one man is thought to still be in jail.

Stateside’s partner BBC’s Celia Hatton spoke to a handful of people who still remember Tiananmen’s last prisoner.

*Listen to audio clip above. 

International Politics & Government/
5:42 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

Remembering Tiananmen Square: Tom Watkins reflects on events

Tienanmen Square in 1988.
Credit Derzsi Elekes Andor / Wikimedia Commons

Tom Watkins was on his first trip to China shortly before the People's Liberation Army turned on the people of China, killing an unknown number of pro-democracy protesters in Beijing.

Watkins says the most defining moment of the trip for him was when a Chinese student asked him to describe democracy.

“I felt really inadequate to describe what we take for granted,” Watkins said. “It felt like trying to tell somebody who had never experienced freedom and democracy what it is like to wake up in the morning and start to breathe.”

Watkins was not in China on June 4, 1989, but he did watch the student-led uprising happen, and he recalls seeing the face of a lone man who defiantly blocked a column of tanks in Tiananmen Square.

“I wondered at that time if he was ever going to have his question answered in his own way in his own country,” Watkins said.

Now, 25 years later, Watkins is the president and CEO of the Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority. He has spent years traveling between the United States and China campaigning for stronger economic and social ties between the two countries.

Watkins said it is the most important relationship in the world. He said China may surpass the United States as early as this year as the world’s largest economy.

However, there are rising tensions between the two countries. Watkins said the United States’ relationship with China is critical.

*Listen to full interview above.

– Bre'Anna Tinsley, Michigan Radio Newsroom

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