Jack Lessenberry http://michiganradio.org en What do we need in politics today? Adults who treat us like adults http://michiganradio.org/post/what-do-we-need-politics-today-adults-who-treat-us-adults <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Normally journalists never say how they vote, but I am about to violate that rule. Eight years ago, I voted to re-elect Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land.&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">I thought she was doing a good job; I still think she was less partisan and more practical than others who have held that post.</span></p><p>Yet I have a hard time recognizing that official in the Terri Lynn Land now running for the U.S. Senate. And yesterday, she unveiled an idea that may be one of the worst I’ve ever heard.&nbsp;<span style="line-height: 1.5;">If you ever leave your house, you know many Michigan roads are in bad shape. Gov. Rick Snyder does.</span></p><p>He’s been trying to get lawmakers to come up with $1.2 billion a year in new money to restore our crumbling roads and bridges.&nbsp;<span style="line-height: 1.5;">Actually, experts with the Michigan Department of Transportation, now say more like $2 billion a year is needed. The governor suggested getting this from a combination of increased registration fees and raising the state gas tax.</span></p><p> Wed, 27 Aug 2014 15:01:20 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 18878 at http://michiganradio.org What do we need in politics today? Adults who treat us like adults Lessenberry explains how the November election is getting in the way of issues in Michigan http://michiganradio.org/post/lessenberry-explains-how-november-election-getting-way-issues-michigan <p></p><p>This <em>Week in Michigan Politics, </em>Emily Fox and Jack Lessenberry discuss U.S. Senate Terry Lynn Land's plan to fix Michigan's roads, if residents can have an impact on <a href="http://michiganradio.org/post/michigan-township-association-leery-fracking-moratoriums">oil drilling</a> and fracking in their communities, and how Michigan won't be a a dumping ground for other states' <a href="http://michiganradio.org/post/michigan-might-take-radioactive-sludge-after-other-states-refused">radioactive waste</a>.</p><p></p><p> Wed, 27 Aug 2014 14:02:08 +0000 Emily Fox & Jack Lessenberry 18875 at http://michiganradio.org Lessenberry explains how the November election is getting in the way of issues in Michigan Michigan voters don't know much about the candidates for state board of education http://michiganradio.org/post/michigan-voters-dont-know-much-about-candidates-state-board-education <p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Okay, now, here’s a test: How many members of the state board of education can you name?&nbsp; Don’t feel bad.</span></p><p>I can’t name them all either.</p><p>What’s more, many people don’t even realize we elect these folks, and the trustees who run our three major universities. This might not be a bad idea if the campaigns involved honest debates over education policy.</p><p>But that almost never happens.</p><p>Instead, we rely on the political parties to select nominees who will devote themselves to mastering the issues and helping run our educational institutions with integrity.</p><p> Tue, 26 Aug 2014 15:50:59 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 18860 at http://michiganradio.org Michigan voters don't know much about the candidates for state board of education Experts have their picks for this election, but voters have the final say http://michiganradio.org/post/experts-have-their-picks-election-voters-have-final-say <p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Both political parties held their state conventions last weekend. They filled out their slates of nominees, from state Supreme Court down to school board and university trustee slots.</span></p><p>With that the fall campaigns can fully begin in earnest.</p><p>Years ago, in a kinder and gentler era, they used to say that the public really didn’t tune in to campaigns until after the World Series.</p><p>Well, that was when the series ended the first week in October.&nbsp;<span style="line-height: 1.5;">These days it sometimes goes into November, and in Michigan the campaign for governor has been going on for more than a year.</span></p><p>My guess, however, is that most normal people start tuning into campaigns about Labor Day.</p><p>Here’s a tip: The media loves conflict and drama, and we tend to play up supposed splits within political parties. Sometimes these are very real, b<span style="line-height: 1.5;">ut most of the time those involved forget about their differences before the election because they hate the other party more.</span></p><p> Mon, 25 Aug 2014 15:03:58 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 18843 at http://michiganradio.org Experts have their picks for this election, but voters have the final say What you can and cannot do in selecting your representatives http://michiganradio.org/post/what-you-can-and-cannot-do-selecting-your-representatives <p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">We know the most important job in state government is that of governor, but the next two top jobs are far more important than we tend to realize.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Michigan’s attorney general is the top lawyer for the entire state, both for state government and the interests of all the citizens.</span></p><p>Meanwhile, whoever is secretary of state is responsible for pretty much everything that has to do with voting and elections – not to mention driver's licenses, automobile and other registrations, and regulating notaries in the state.</p><p>We elect these officials by a statewide vote in November. They serve four-year terms, and can be re-elected only once.</p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">But here’s the odd thing about these jobs. We the voters have the final say in November, but have virtually no say in who the major political parties choose as their candidates.</span></p><p> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 15:37:37 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 18824 at http://michiganradio.org What you can and cannot do in selecting your representatives Canada's new consul general is determined to build a new Detroit River bridge http://michiganradio.org/post/canadas-new-consul-general-determined-build-new-detroit-river-bridge <p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">I had a conversation yesterday with Douglas George, the Canadian government’s new consul general in Detroit.</span></p><p>For Canada, this area is an economic region important enough to merit a mini-embassy. Ottawa has a vast suite of offices in the Renaissance Center, and a large staff, some busy with immigration matters, and the rest primarily with economic and trade questions.</p><p>One indication of how important Canada sees Detroit is that Consul George was most recently their ambassador to Kuwait, and before that was a major trade negotiator who at various times headed both their government’s tariff and intellectual property divisions.</p><p>Here, he is responsible for trade and other issues involving a five-state area economically vital to Canada.</p><p> Thu, 21 Aug 2014 15:42:38 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 18808 at http://michiganradio.org Canada's new consul general is determined to build a new Detroit River bridge The week in Michigan politics http://michiganradio.org/post/week-michigan-politics-60 <p></p><p>This <em>Week in Michigan Politics, </em>Jack Lessenberry and Emily Fox discuss possible teacher pay cuts and school closings for Detroit Public Schools, if there will be broadcasted debates with candidates for governor and the U.S. Senate, and what to expect at the Republican and Democratic conventions this weekend.</p><p></p><p> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 14:36:07 +0000 Emily Fox & Jack Lessenberry 18791 at http://michiganradio.org The week in Michigan politics It's OK to support a candidate even if you don't agree with their every position http://michiganradio.org/post/its-ok-support-candidate-even-if-you-dont-agree-their-every-position <p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Both major political parties have their state conventions this week. Republicans are meeting in Novi; Democrats in Lansing.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">There’s always an element of the high school reunion about these conventions; people, including the press, look forward to them in part because they get to see old friends.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">However, there are also squabbles.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Most of this year’s focus has been on the Republican gathering, where Tea Party insurgents are attempting to throw Lieutenant Governor Brian </span>Calley<span style="line-height: 1.5;"> off the ticket.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Democrats, however, have their own struggle behind the scenes.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">In case you are new to this, these conventions actually nominate most of each party’s candidates for statewide office.</span></p><p> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 14:15:20 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 18790 at http://michiganradio.org It's OK to support a candidate even if you don't agree with their every position This Detroit woman who fought for equal rights decades ago deserves to be remembered today http://michiganradio.org/post/detroit-woman-who-fought-equal-rights-decades-ago-deserves-be-remembered-today <p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">By now everyone knows, or at least thinks they know, something about Michael Brown. He was, of course, the unarmed black teenager shot to death by a white police officer in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson 10 days ago.</span></p><p>His death has reopened our eternal and eternally painful dialogue about equal rights and race. But what makes me sad is that a true civil rights movement giant died in Detroit two days ago, and almost nobody even noticed.</p><p>Fifty years ago this summer, a young black woman lawyer from Detroit named Claudia House Morcom arrived in Mississippi on a mission that really meant risking her life.</p><p>She was there to fight the system of institutionalized vicious racism that prevented black Americans from voting, and reduced them to subhuman status in virtually every way.</p><p> Tue, 19 Aug 2014 15:08:59 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 18773 at http://michiganradio.org This Detroit woman who fought for equal rights decades ago deserves to be remembered today The holes in our roads are like dental cavities: Ignore them and they get bigger http://michiganradio.org/post/holes-our-roads-are-dental-cavities-ignore-them-and-they-get-bigger <p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">By now coverage of last week’s Detroit area flooding has receded. For now, many of us have temporarily forgotten about how bad the potholes were last winter. We are trying, after all, to enjoy the last few days of summer.</span></p><p>However, roads, unlike little boys with scraped knees, don’t heal themselves.</p><p>When I was a kid I remember being told that the best thing you could do for a scraped knee was to spit on it.</p><p>This is actually not true. Most people know this by now, especially if you’ve ever taken a personal hygiene class. There are a lot more dangerous myths out there, however.</p><p>One of which is that we can’t afford to fix our infrastructure.</p><p>The fact is that in sheer dollars-and-cents terms we can’t afford not to. This weekend I talked to Jeff&nbsp;Cranson, the head of communications for&nbsp;MDOT, the Michigan Department of Transportation.</p><p>I asked him to help me get some hard, cold numbers about the cost of both repairing the roads and also the costs of not doing so.</p><p> Mon, 18 Aug 2014 14:34:33 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 18756 at http://michiganradio.org The holes in our roads are like dental cavities: Ignore them and they get bigger "Tea Party thinking" is causing serious damage and threatens to cause much more http://michiganradio.org/post/tea-party-thinking-causing-serious-damage-and-threatens-cause-much-more <p>They used to say that the definition of a recession was when your neighbor lost his job, and a depression was when you lost yours.</p><p>Well, after this week’s monumental Detroit-area rainstorm and flood, we now have a new definition for our dictionary of popular economics. You can say that wasteful government spending is when Washington or Lansing helps someone else.</p><p>Proper allocation of scarce resources is when they help -- you.</p><p>That may sound like a joke, but all too many people subconsciously feel that way.</p><p>You need only drive through the streets of communities like blue-collar Warren and more affluent Huntington Woods to get a sense of the scope of this week’s destruction.</p><p>Warren Mayor Jim Fouts has called on Washington for assistance, saying “if the federal government can help flood-damaged communities in various countries, I think they can help flood damage in the city of Warren.”</p><p>Good luck with that.</p><p> Fri, 15 Aug 2014 15:19:33 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 18740 at http://michiganradio.org "Tea Party thinking" is causing serious damage and threatens to cause much more Instead of preparing, our leaders seem to shrug their shoulders at extreme weather events http://michiganradio.org/post/instead-preparing-our-leaders-seem-shrug-their-shoulders-extreme-weather-events <div><div class="gmail_default" style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal; display: inline;">​</div></div><div><div class="gmail_default" style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal; display: inline;">​</div><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Last winter was the snowiest and one of the coldest ever in Metropolitan Detroit. Three days ago, the area was hit by an absolutely devastating rainstorm and the following floods.</span><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;" /><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;" /><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">We don’t know if these events were influenced by climate change. We do know that the infrastructure, from freeway ramps to storm drains, wasn’t adequate to deal with the problems.</span><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;" /><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;" /><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Our roads were in urgent need of investment before this happened, and many are in worse shape now. For years, we’ve known that the water infrastructure in southeast Michigan was in need of major upgrading.</span><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;" /><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;" /><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">But we haven’t done any of it. &nbsp;</span><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;" /> Thu, 14 Aug 2014 15:44:28 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 18727 at http://michiganradio.org Instead of preparing, our leaders seem to shrug their shoulders at extreme weather events Michigan's infrastructure crumbling as lawmakers work to take away your vote on wolves http://michiganradio.org/post/michigans-infrastructure-crumbling-lawmakers-work-take-away-your-vote-wolves <p><em>&nbsp;&nbsp;This story was updated at 11:04 am (8/13/14)</em></p><p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">As you probably know, the Michigan Legislature has been unwilling to come up with the money to fix our roads.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Michigan’s roads are in bad shape, and some in metro Detroit are going to be in worse shape after Monday night’s horrendous flooding.</span></p><p>That devastation is bound to raise new questions about our aging and inadequate storm drain systems, but don’t look for your lawmakers to do anything about that, either.</p><p>That’s because fixing things costs money, and too many of our lawmakers are stubbornly opposed to raising revenue for ideological reasons, or just plain lack the courage to raise taxes.</p><p> Wed, 13 Aug 2014 14:40:33 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 18707 at http://michiganradio.org Michigan's infrastructure crumbling as lawmakers work to take away your vote on wolves This week in Michigan politics: water, wolves and schools http://michiganradio.org/post/week-michigan-politics-water-wolves-and-schools <p>This <em>Week in Michigan Politics, </em>Emily Fox and Jack Lessenberry discuss how<a href="http://michiganradio.org/post/metro-detroit-slammed-historic-rainfall-flooding"> flooding in Detroit </a>will impact infrastructure, how the Senate might vote on legislation to allow wolf hunting in Michigan, and what the state is doing to make sure <a href="http://michiganradio.org/post/11-michigan-charter-school-authorizers-face-suspension">charter schools</a> are up to snuff.</p><p></p><p></p><p> Wed, 13 Aug 2014 13:55:22 +0000 Emily Fox & Jack Lessenberry 18706 at http://michiganradio.org This week in Michigan politics: water, wolves and schools Giving kids a better education matters; our future is doomed if we don't http://michiganradio.org/post/giving-kids-better-education-matters-our-future-doomed-if-we-dont <p></p><p>You probably know that Metro Detroit was hit by an amazing rainstorm last night that completely paralyzed traffic.</p><p>I may know this better than most people, since I spent several hours in a rather unexciting Coney Island in Warren.</p><p>Sometimes, it is probably good to be reminded that there are things we really can’t control, such as the weather. But there are other things we can do something about, such as education.</p><p>This occurred to me in the Coney at one o'clock this morning, as I was reading an order Mike Flanagan, the state superintendent of public instruction, issued about charter schools.</p><p>Last month, the Detroit Free Press issued <a href="http://www.freep.com/interactive/article/20140622/NEWS06/140507009/State-charter-schools-How-Michigan-spends-1-billion-fails-hold-schools-accountable">a massive investigative report</a> on the state’s charters, a study so intensive it took the newspaper eight days to publish all of it.</p><p>The newspaper series revealed that some charter schools were indeed doing well. But it also found a pattern of widespread abuses, financial irregularities, and a lack of accountability. The reporters also found schools that had been failing for years, but which nobody moved to close down.</p><p> Tue, 12 Aug 2014 17:30:15 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 18693 at http://michiganradio.org Giving kids a better education matters; our future is doomed if we don't The Snyder scandals http://michiganradio.org/post/snyder-scandals <div class="gmail_default" style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); line-height: normal; font-family: arial; font-size: small; display: inline;">&nbsp;</div><p></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); line-height: normal; font-family: arial; font-size: small;">Nobody can say Governor Rick Snyder vacillated, when it was learned last week that Scott </span>Woosley<span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); line-height: normal; font-family: arial; font-size: small;">, his appointed head of the Michigan State Housing Authority, had been racking up expense account charges fit for a European monarch.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); line-height: normal; font-family: arial; font-size: small;">Well, figuratively speaking, that is. I can’t imagine even the last king of Albania paying twelve hundred dollars to have a stretch limo take him across Nebraska. And state officials did deny payment for a “dinner” that consisted only of three glasses of expensive rum.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); line-height: normal; font-family: arial; font-size: small;">Enterprising Democratic Party activists used the Freedom of Information Act to ferret out this information. But within 24 hours after it hit the papers, Scott Woosley was unemployed.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); line-height: normal; font-family: arial; font-size: small;">The governor didn’t move nearly so quickly when it came to the Aramark Correctional Services abuses. For weeks, there have been stories about maggots on the chow line and&nbsp;scores of Aramark employees fired or suspended for inappropriate behavior.&nbsp;</span></p><p></p><p> Mon, 11 Aug 2014 14:25:03 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 18681 at http://michiganradio.org The Snyder scandals Why Voting Matters http://michiganradio.org/post/why-voting-matters <p>Whatever your politics, there is both good news in yesterday’s election results, as well as some lessons to be learned. First of all, the good news: It had been widely predicted that turnout yesterday would be an all-time low.&nbsp;<span style="line-height: 1.5;">Some analysts felt that fewer than a million people might vote, which would have been the lowest in modern history.</span></p><p>Fewer absentee ballots than expected had been taken out, there were no contests for governor or senator, and on top of that, it rained in much of Metro Detroit.</p><p>Yet, in the end, more than 1.3 million people voted. That’s less than one-fifth of those eligible. But it could have been worse. Something else perhaps encouraging is that those who spent the most money didn’t always win.</p><p>Paul Mitchell, a rich businessman from Saginaw County, spent millions in an effort to win the Republican nomination to Congress. He lost to veteran legislator John Moolenaar in a landslide. In a similar election in Grand Rapids, another millionaire, Brian Ellis, tried to defeat maverick GOP congressman, Justin Amash. Ellis lost badly too.</p><p> Wed, 06 Aug 2014 14:09:03 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 18644 at http://michiganradio.org Why Voting Matters Lessenberry fills in the details of Michigan's primary election http://michiganradio.org/post/lessenberry-fills-details-michigans-primary-election <p></p><p>This <em>Week in Michigan Politics,</em> Jack Lessenberry fills in the political details of Michigan's primary election.</p><p></p><p> Wed, 06 Aug 2014 13:35:30 +0000 Emily Fox & Jack Lessenberry 18643 at http://michiganradio.org Lessenberry fills in the details of Michigan's primary election Why you should bother to vote in the Michigan primary next Tuesday http://michiganradio.org/post/why-you-should-bother-vote-michigan-primary-next-tuesday <div class="gmail_default" style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal; display: inline;">​</div><p></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">If you have been listening to the news much lately, you are probably aware there’s a statewide primary election next week, and a fairly interesting one at that.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Four of Michigan’s 16 congressmen are leaving this year, one to run for the Senate. Some of the others, including Justin Amash, Dan Benishek, Kerry Bentivolio and John Conyers have serious primary challenges in their own parties.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Every seat in the Legislature is up for grabs. Democrats desperately want to win at least one house back. Term limits mean that nearly one third of all the legislators have to leave.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">That has meant energetic and expensive primaries in most of those districts, and a number of incumbent legislators face primary opponents as well. They include establishment Republicans fighting Tea Party challengers, and Democratic state Sens.Vincent Gregory and Virgil Smith, both are trying to fend off challenges from term-limited legislators playing musical chairs.</span></p><p> Fri, 01 Aug 2014 14:59:58 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 18584 at http://michiganradio.org Why you should bother to vote in the Michigan primary next Tuesday Best Michigan representatives money can buy? http://michiganradio.org/post/best-michigan-representatives-money-can-buy <div><div class="gmail_default" style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal; display: inline;">​</div><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Imagine that you are a CEO and you are looking to hire somebody for a temporary, two-year position that pays $174,000 a year, and may include access to highly sensitive information.</span><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;" /><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;" /><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Somebody steps up and announces he will pay more than $3 million, most of it out of his own pocket, to be considered for this job. &nbsp;Would you be suspicious?</span><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;" /><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;" /><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Let’s say you also needed to hire someone for a lower-ranking position, one which will have little power, and which will pay less than $72,000. A woman who could easily make more than that elsewhere borrows money, hits up friends, and spends more than $200,000 in an attempt to be a finalist for the position.</span><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;" /><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;" /><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Would you say something is wrong here?</span></p></div><div> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 15:58:56 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 18576 at http://michiganradio.org Best Michigan representatives money can buy?