Jack Lessenberry http://michiganradio.org en These veterans deserve some recognition, but the City of Detroit ignores them http://michiganradio.org/post/these-veterans-deserve-some-recognition-city-detroit-ignores-them <p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Mike Sand didn’t technically serve in Vietnam. But he might as well have. He was stationed with a tactical fighter group in Thailand where he serviced the planes and cleaned the messes out of the cockpits of the men who fought and died in the skies.</span></p><p>Paul Palazzollo did serve on the ground, for perhaps the two most intense years of the war. He earned a Silver Star, a Bronze Star, and two purple hearts. But he doesn’t talk much about what he did. Few of his buddies do either.&nbsp;</p><p><br />They’d rather talk about their dream, which is a Memorial Park commemorating all veterans of all wars, a peaceful place to relax, have programs, and learn about our history.&nbsp;</p><p> Fri, 25 Jul 2014 15:32:34 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 18513 at http://michiganradio.org These veterans deserve some recognition, but the City of Detroit ignores them These three female candidates could be some of the most interesting leaders in Michigan http://michiganradio.org/post/these-three-female-candidates-could-be-some-most-interesting-leaders-michigan <p></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Unless you’ve been trapped in a coal mine, you may have noticed that this is an election year.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">We’re less than two weeks from Michigan’s statewide primary. Once we get through that, we may have a few weeks before the airwaves are again dominated by commercials for various candidates for various offices.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">I’ve been telling you about some of these, and I expect to be talking more about them before November.&nbsp;</span><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">But I was thinking that three of the most potentially interesting leaders in the state are not on the ballot this year.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">They are all women, all young, charismatic, intelligent, competent and highly educated. They also all happen to be Democrats, but that is almost a coincidence.&nbsp;</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Republicans have some rising women leaders as well, two of whom, Lisa Posthumus Lyons and Tonya Schuitmaker, are running for reelection to the Legislature.</span></p><p> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 15:05:23 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 18498 at http://michiganradio.org These three female candidates could be some of the most interesting leaders in Michigan This U.S. District Judge turns 90 today, and he has no plans to stop hearing cases http://michiganradio.org/post/us-district-judge-turns-90-today-and-he-has-no-plans-stop-hearing-cases <p></p><div class="gmail_default" style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal; display: inline;">​</div><div class="gmail_default" style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal; display: inline;">&nbsp;</div><p></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">35 years ago this spring, President Jimmy Carter nominated Detroit attorney </span>Avern<span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;"> Cohn to be a federal judge.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">High-tech meant IBM </span>selectric<span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;"> typewriters back then.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Detroit had nearly twice its current population. The World Wide Web wouldn’t exist for more than a decade, and President Obama was a teenager still in high school.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Today, U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn turns 90. And he’ll spend the day, as usual, in federal court, where he still hears cases, full time.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">“I get great satisfaction out of this,” he told me when I talked to him last week.&nbsp;</span><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">“I’m happy. Every day is different. You are always learning something new. It is a job that keeps you young.”</span></p><p> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 15:06:15 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 18485 at http://michiganradio.org This U.S. District Judge turns 90 today, and he has no plans to stop hearing cases Our future is tied to our kids' future, and a new report shows that doesn't look good http://michiganradio.org/post/our-future-tied-our-kids-future-and-new-report-shows-doesnt-look-good <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 15px; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1.15; background-color: transparent;">You have to give </span>Detroiters<span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 15px; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1.15; background-color: transparent;"> a lot of credit.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 15px; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1.15; background-color: transparent;">They voted, by </span><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 15px; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1.15; background-color: transparent;">overwhelming margins, to accept major cuts to their pensions. </span><span id="docs-internal-guid-e1ff40f5-5e99-a3ba-89a9-c12c7c8c0d91" style="line-height: 1.15;"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap; background-color: transparent;">In what was most surprising, nearly 90% of city retirees also </span></span><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 15px; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1.15; background-color: transparent;">voted to give up 90% of their health care benefits. </span><span id="docs-internal-guid-e1ff40f5-5e99-a3ba-89a9-c12c7c8c0d91" style="line-height: 1.15;"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap; background-color: transparent;">They voted to make sacrifices in their old age to give their city a </span></span><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 15px; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1.15; background-color: transparent;">chance at a future, something that we should find pretty admirable.</span></p><p><span id="docs-internal-guid-e1ff40f5-5e99-a3ba-89a9-c12c7c8c0d91" style="line-height: 1.15;"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap; background-color: transparent;">Now, granted, they had a gun to their heads. They were told to take </span></span><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 15px; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1.15; background-color: transparent;">this deal, or something worse would be imposed on them, but they could </span><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 15px; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1.15; background-color: transparent;">have raged against the machine, and didn’t.</span></p><p><span id="docs-internal-guid-e1ff40f5-5e99-a3ba-89a9-c12c7c8c0d91" style="line-height: 1.15;"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap; background-color: transparent;">In fact, they weren’t even obligated to approve the health care cuts, </span></span><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 15px; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1.15; background-color: transparent;">though they probably couldn’t have stopped them.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 15px; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1.15; background-color: transparent;">People love to bash Detroiters, b</span><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 15px; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1.15; background-color: transparent;">ut throughout the years, they have stepped up time and </span><span id="docs-internal-guid-e1ff40f5-5e99-a3ba-89a9-c12c7c8c0d91" style="line-height: 1.15;"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap; background-color: transparent;">again, voting to tax themselves when told they had to do so to save </span></span><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 15px; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1.15; background-color: transparent;">the city; voting now to accept new painful sacrifices.</span></p><p></p><p><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 15px; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1.15; background-color: transparent;">Meanwhile, four classes of the city’s hugest creditors voted no on </span><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 15px; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1.15; background-color: transparent;">settlement offers made to them, and so further court battles lie </span><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 15px; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1.15; background-color: transparent;">ahead.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 15px; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1.15; background-color: transparent;">All of this is bound to overshadow another story today that in the </span><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 15px; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1.15; background-color: transparent;">long run may be as meaningful for our future. </span></p><p> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 16:29:04 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 18470 at http://michiganradio.org Our future is tied to our kids' future, and a new report shows that doesn't look good Forget left and right on water shut-offs. Let's figure out how to fix the non-payment problem http://michiganradio.org/post/forget-left-and-right-water-shut-offs-lets-figure-out-how-fix-non-payment-problem <div><p><em>Update: The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department has announced a 15-day suspension of its controversial shutoff campaign. &nbsp;</em></p></div><div><div class="gmail_default" style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal; display: inline;">​</div><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Unless you’ve been completely out of touch, you know that the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department has been shutting off service to thousands of customers who haven’t paid their bills.</span><p><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;">This has sparked huge controversy, protests and even condemnation from the United Nations. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes even got involved.</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;">Last week, he told the deputy director of Detroit’s water department that shutting off water to city residents has, quote "caused not only a lot of anger in the city (but) also a lot of hardship."</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;">And the judge added, "it’s caused a lot of bad publicity for the city it doesn’t need right now." That much is not in dispute. But not everyone is in agreement that this is an atrocity.</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;">Kevyn Orr, Detroit’s emergency manager, supports the shutoffs, saying that the rule everywhere is that <a href="http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20140716/METRO01/307160105/Orr-very-supportive-Detroit-water-shut-offs-nonpayment">“if you use water, you hav</a></span><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;"><a href="http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20140716/METRO01/307160105/Orr-very-supportive-Detroit-water-shut-offs-nonpayment">e to pay for it.”</a> He notes that there’s an assistance program, and says that if people are in trouble, “all they need to do is call.”</span></p><p> Mon, 21 Jul 2014 16:15:05 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 18451 at http://michiganradio.org Forget left and right on water shut-offs. Let's figure out how to fix the non-payment problem The pros and cons of Bill Wild, one of the candidates for Wayne Co. executive http://michiganradio.org/post/pros-and-cons-bill-wild-one-candidates-wayne-co-executive <p></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Westland sometimes is in national trivia contests because it was the first city ever named after a shopping mall.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Bill Wild, Westland’s mayor for the last seven years, has been much less well-known. Perhaps until recently, that is; he is now waging a serious campaign to be elected Wayne County executive.&nbsp;</span><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">That is, to win the Democratic primary August </span>5<span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">, which essentially guarantees victory in the November election.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Wild may still have more money and less name recognition than his four major rivals. But he is running second in some polls, and has one powerful argument.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">“I’m the only candidate who actually has executive experience, who has run both a business and a government,” he told me a couple days ago, when I went to see him at his campaign headquarters on the east side of Detroit.&nbsp;</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">That is somewhat true.</span></p><p> Fri, 18 Jul 2014 19:50:54 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 18429 at http://michiganradio.org The pros and cons of Bill Wild, one of the candidates for Wayne Co. executive Michigan Republican Party's tactics remind me of Watergate, because both were unnecessary http://michiganradio.org/post/michigan-republican-partys-tactics-remind-me-watergate-because-both-were-unnecessary <p></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Back in the </span>1960s<span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">, there was a hilarious TV sitcom called Get Smart, which portrayed the adventures of the world’s most inept spy.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Maxwell Smart was a bumbler who talked into his not-so-secret shoe telephone, carried around a device called the cone of silence, and never really had a clue as to what was going on.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Well, the Cold War is long over, but if he were around today, Smart would clearly have a future in politics.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">This week, we learned that the Snyder re-election campaign has evidently revived some version of the classic department of dirty tricks, tactics made most famous by another Richard, the late President Nixon.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">The Michigan Republican Party now admits it sent two staffers into a Mark Schauer fundraising event <a href="http://michiganradio.org/post/michigans-campaign-governor-gets-weird-republicans-deploy-spyglasses">wearing high-tech hidden camera glasses</a>.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Democrats later got possession of the disc, apparently because the Republicans clumsily lost it. My understanding is that it shows the two paid staffers chowing down on appetizers and worrying that the people at the event were on to them.&nbsp;</span><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">They apparently made small talk with Lisa Brown, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, but not </span>Schauer<span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">You might think Republicans would now be embarrassed.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">But you’d be wrong.</span></p><p> Thu, 17 Jul 2014 15:01:28 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 18410 at http://michiganradio.org Michigan Republican Party's tactics remind me of Watergate, because both were unnecessary Some think their immigrant ancestors were the last that should be allowed in the U.S. http://michiganradio.org/post/some-think-their-immigrant-ancestors-were-last-should-be-allowed-us <p></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">I’ve always had a warm place in my heart for the sugar beet country of Michigan’s Thumb.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Years ago, I used to take graduate journalism students to </span>Caro<span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;"> for a day where they would put out a special edition of the </span>Tuscola<span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;"> County Advertiser.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">The folks there were open, friendly, warm-hearted, and hard-working, but I have to say I’m ashamed of some of them today.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">They are disgracing our state and reminding us of some of the ugliest chapters in American history. </span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Here’s why:&nbsp;</span><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Thousands of children and teenagers have been turning up at the United States’ southern border over the last few months. We are, if you’ve forgotten, a nation founded by refugees and which, to this very day, has remained open to those seeking political asylum.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">That’s the beautiful part of our legacy.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">The ugly part is that far too many of us think our ancestors were the last immigrants who should have been allowed in. That’s been reflected throughout our history in signs that said “No Irish need apply,” communities that refused to allow Jews, and the entire history of black America.</span></p><p> Wed, 16 Jul 2014 14:51:15 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 18392 at http://michiganradio.org Some think their immigrant ancestors were the last that should be allowed in the U.S. This ballot proposal is critical to Michigan's economy, but most people won't bother to vote on it http://michiganradio.org/post/ballot-proposal-critical-michigans-economy-most-people-wont-bother-vote-it <p></p><p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Michigan’s statewide primary is three weeks from today, and the one thing certain is that most people, even most registered voters, won’t even bother to vote.</span></p><p>They never do in primary elections.</p><p>Turnout seems likely to be especially dismal this year. While there are a few hot congressional and legislative races, there are no primary contests for governor or U.S. senator in either party.</p> Tue, 15 Jul 2014 14:10:35 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 18376 at http://michiganradio.org This ballot proposal is critical to Michigan's economy, but most people won't bother to vote on it You get what you pay when hiring private company for Michigan prisons: embarrassing failures http://michiganradio.org/post/you-get-what-you-pay-when-hiring-private-company-michigan-prisons-embarrassing-failures <p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">I’d like to start the week with a thought that some will consider heresy: sometimes, privatization just doesn’t work.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">There are some functions and responsibilities that government handles better.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">American is gung-ho for privatization these days, both to save money, and because government at all levels has become something we love to hate.&nbsp;</span><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Thanks to years of being told that government is bad, corrupt, expensive and inefficient, we are happy to reduce its size.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Well, we may not be quite ready to hand the nuclear arsenal over to an assets management firm, but apart from that, anything goes. And frankly, there are some things that probably should be privatized.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Garbage collection, for example.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">But Michigan decided last year to privatize food service in our prisons, and so far, it has been a highly embarrassing failure.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;"><a href="http://www.freep.com/article/20140713/NEWS06/307130099">The <em>Detroit Free Press</em></a> used the state Freedom of Information Act to find out what’s happened since the state contracted with a private food services company, Aramark Correctional Services of Pennsylvania.</span></p><p> Mon, 14 Jul 2014 14:52:17 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 18358 at http://michiganradio.org You get what you pay when hiring private company for Michigan prisons: embarrassing failures Randy Richardville will be forced to leave right when he's hitting his stride as a leader http://michiganradio.org/post/randy-richardville-will-be-forced-leave-right-when-hes-hitting-his-stride-leader <p></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Michigan Senate Majority Leader Randy </span>Richardville<span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;"> will be out of a job in less than six months, thanks to term limits.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">This means his career in elected politics may be over.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">And I am beginning to be sorry about that. In the last few months, Richardville, a former Monroe businessman, has evolved into a leader capable of looking beyond a narrow partisan agenda.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">The roads are one example.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">In past years, he virtually sneered at Governor Snyder’s call for the Legislature to appropriate billions to fix our crumbling roads. This spring, Richardville switched, came up with a creative plan to finance long-term road repair, and made a valiant, if failed effort, to get it through the Legislature.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">He said this was because all he heard from his constituents was “just fix the damn roads.” That may be true, but he did see the light when other members of his caucus were bizarrely talking about trying to push through another tax cut instead.</span></p><p> Fri, 11 Jul 2014 14:14:40 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 18341 at http://michiganradio.org Randy Richardville will be forced to leave right when he's hitting his stride as a leader Michigan's gerrymandered 11th District is about to have an interesting election http://michiganradio.org/post/michigans-gerrymandered-11th-district-about-have-interesting-election <p></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); line-height: normal; font-family: arial; font-size: small;">There’s been a lot of attention paid to Michigan’s bizarrely gerrymandered </span>14th<span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); line-height: normal; font-family: arial; font-size: small;"> Congressional District, drawn to pack as many Democrats as possible together.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); line-height: normal; font-family: arial; font-size: small;">But there has been even more strangeness in its mirror image to the left, the 11th District, similarly designed for Republicans. Shaped something like an irregular claw, the 11th begins with Birmingham and Troy in the east and arcs over to take in Milford and Novi in the west and Livonia and Canton in the South.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); line-height: normal; font-family: arial; font-size: small;">This was meant to be GOP territory. But it is not nearly as Republican as the 14th is Democratic. President Obama carried it once, and some think it could send a Democrat to Congress. And it hasn’t been short of controversy.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); line-height: normal; font-family: arial; font-size: small;">Two years ago, longtime Congressman Thaddeus McCotter’s career ended after his staff filed fraudulent ballot petition signatures.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); line-height: normal; font-family: arial; font-size: small;">That left Republicans with Kerry Bentivolio, a Tea Party supporting reindeer farmer. He won and is trying for a second term.</span></p><p> Thu, 10 Jul 2014 16:05:39 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 18326 at http://michiganradio.org Michigan's gerrymandered 11th District is about to have an interesting election Her feisty character and other reasons to remember Michigan's only First Lady http://michiganradio.org/post/her-feisty-character-and-other-reasons-remember-michigans-only-first-lady <p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Patricia Hill Burnett, who was famous back in the </span>1970s<span style="line-height: 1.5;"> as sort of the quintessential Republican feminist, will be 94 in a few months.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">She is still defiantly pro-Equal Rights Amendment, pro-choice, and on economic issues, Republican to the core.</span></p><p>She was runner-up to Miss America 72 years ago, and went on to become both Michigan’s unofficial state portrait painter and the woman who started the state chapter of NOW, the National Organization for Women.</p><p>Comfortably wealthy, she always dresses and talks, as Detroit News columnist Laura Berman says today, “like a local, more highly educated version of Zsa Zsa Gabor.”</p><p>I went to see her earlier this year when she was recovering from a brief illness, and she told me that she felt sad that many young women did not want to be called feminists any more.</p><p>She was also sad that younger women didn’t know anything about Betty Ford.</p><p> Tue, 08 Jul 2014 14:54:35 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 18286 at http://michiganradio.org Her feisty character and other reasons to remember Michigan's only First Lady Charter school supporters’ response to investigations is "Soviet" in style http://michiganradio.org/post/charter-school-supporters-response-investigations-soviet-style <p></p> Mon, 07 Jul 2014 14:43:22 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 18274 at http://michiganradio.org Charter school supporters’ response to investigations is "Soviet" in style When it comes to representation in the Legislature and Congress, Michigan voters are still not equal http://michiganradio.org/post/when-it-comes-representation-legislature-and-congress-michigan-voters-are-still-not-equal <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;</span></p><p>Tomorrow we will happily celebrate the Fourth of July, both because we see it as the anniversary of American Independence and maybe especially because this year it comes with a three-day weekend.</p><p>Actually, what we are commemorating is not really true independence; that came at the end of the Revolutionary War. What this day marks is the signing of the Declaration on Independence, the best-remembered line of which is, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”</p><p>Well, as you probably know, the men who wrote that document didn’t believe that as we do now. For one thing, they were all men. Women didn’t even get to vote for more than a hundred years.</p><p>Races other than whites weren’t equal, nor were the landless poor. But we like to think that isn’t the case anymore. After all, we have a black president, and may soon have a female one.</p><p>But when it comes to representation in the Legislature and Congress, Michigan voters are still not equal.</p><p>Legislative seats have to be roughly equal in terms of population. Congressional districts, exactly so. They redraw the boundaries every ten years. But politicians do the drawing, and last time, Republicans were in complete control of the process. That enabled them to give themselves total advantage.</p><p> Thu, 03 Jul 2014 15:21:56 +0000 Tony Brown 18255 at http://michiganradio.org When it comes to representation in the Legislature and Congress, Michigan voters are still not equal Terri Lynn Land was a good secretary of state, but she isn't up to date on issues http://michiganradio.org/post/terri-lynn-land-was-good-secretary-state-she-isnt-date-issues <p></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Okay, here’s today’s political trivia test: What do the following people have in common?&nbsp;</span></p><div style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Bob Griffin, Marvin Esch, Jack Lousma, Jim Dunn, Phil Ruppe, Ronna Romney, Bill Schuette, Rocky Raczkowski, Jack Hoogendyk, Spencer Abraham, Mike Bouchard, and Pete Hoekstra.&nbsp;That’s the complete list of Michigan Republicans nominated to run statewide for the U.S. Senate in the last 40 years.&nbsp;</div><div style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;"><br />They have something else in common, too:&nbsp;Every one lost. How many Republicans won election to the Senate over the same period? Only one: Spencer Abraham, who won in 1994. Six years later, he was a loser, too.</div><div style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;"><br />That’s an incredible record of frustration. Twelve out of 13 losses. That’s especially strange, given that the GOP has held the governorship for most of that time, and the Legislature.</div><div style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;"><br />If you are 31 or younger, you weren’t even born the last time Democrats controlled the state Senate.</div><div style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;"> Wed, 02 Jul 2014 14:57:13 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 18235 at http://michiganradio.org Terri Lynn Land was a good secretary of state, but she isn't up to date on issues The polarizing reactions to the 'Hobby Lobby' case are more frightening than the Cold War http://michiganradio.org/post/polarizing-reactions-hobby-lobby-case-are-more-frightening-cold-war <p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">I woke up this morning thinking about the election 38 years ago, when Jimmy Carter narrowly defeated Michigan’s only president, Gerald Ford. That may sound a little bizarre, but before you call my psychiatrist, I was at the Ford Library just a few days ago.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">And something that happened yesterday made me nostalgic for that long-ago time, for a very modern reason. I have intensely followed politics all my life, and remember that election as though it were yesterday.</span></p><p>The result was very close – the winner wasn’t known 'till almost four the next morning. There was sadness and some bitterness on the part of the losers the next day.</p><p> Tue, 01 Jul 2014 15:56:42 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 18218 at http://michiganradio.org The polarizing reactions to the 'Hobby Lobby' case are more frightening than the Cold War Stay safe around fireworks this Independence Day, since the Legislature isn't helping http://michiganradio.org/post/stay-safe-around-fireworks-independence-day-legislature-isnt-helping <p></p><p></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">As I am sure you’ve noticed, Friday is the Fourth of July, which means that for several nights before and afterwards, many of our neighborhoods will sound after dark like a free-fire zone.</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;">In other words, kids, some of them long past voting age, will be setting off fireworks. A few will hurt themselves, mainly burning their hands or losing a finger. Some may lose an eye.</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;">If the grass is dry enough or a bottle rocket goes out of control, we may have some serious fires. Six years ago, a bottle rocket landed on the roof of a rather nice apartment complex in Toledo, starting a blaze that completely destroyed the buildings.</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;">Nobody died, but a hundred people were left homeless. Over the years, I’ve noticed that the staunchest advocates for gun control haven’t been so-called Ann Arbor liberals, but the police.</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;">Cops are not always known to be liberal on social issues, but they see on a firsthand basis what guns in the wrong hands can do. By the same token, firefighters tend to be the most anti-firecracker.</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;">Firemen, and city officials. When I was young, Ohio had far more liberal fireworks policies than Michigan. But that has changed. Ohio has outlawed almost all consumer fireworks.</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 three years ago, our Legislature made them far easier to get and blow up for three days around any national holiday.&nbsp;</span></p><p> Mon, 30 Jun 2014 15:07:08 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 18202 at http://michiganradio.org Stay safe around fireworks this Independence Day, since the Legislature isn't helping Governor Snyder made gun ownership records private http://michiganradio.org/post/governor-snyder-made-gun-ownership-records-private <p></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Most of us don’t completely trust the government. We certainly don’t want government to be able to prevent us from getting information we want or need.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">We are against governments suppressing information…unless it is stuff that we personally want suppressed.</span><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Then that’s different, of course.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">I thought of that this week when Governor Rick Snyder signed legislation that prevents the press or public from being able to get gun records. From now on, we will be unable to find out who owns guns, and who has permits and licenses to have them.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Well, conservatives and gun lovers are thrilled about this, and I’m not surprised. For some reason, those who most feel the need to be heavily armed seem also to be the most paranoid.&nbsp;</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">State Representative Aric Nesbitt, who enthusiastically backed these bills, said: “By allowing publication of private information about gun owners, some other states have put gun owners and their neighbors at risk. We want to prevent that from happening."</span></p><p> Fri, 27 Jun 2014 14:21:47 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 18184 at http://michiganradio.org Governor Snyder made gun ownership records private Wayne county is so Democratic the only election that really counts is the August primary http://michiganradio.org/post/wayne-county-so-democratic-only-election-really-counts-august-primary <p></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Wayne County always has been the biggest county in Michigan, at least in terms of people, and it's the most important.&nbsp;</span><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Though it includes Detroit, more than a million of its residents live elsewhere, from the affluent leafy suburbs of Plymouth to gritty downriver towns like River Rouge.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">They are all very different, but have two things in common. First, they elect an executive, sort of a super mayor to run things. And second, they live in a county in trouble and in deficit.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">In recent years, Wayne County has been rocked by personnel scandals and an astonishing farce concerning a half-built jail abandoned after $125 million taxpayer dollars had been wasted.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Now, there are increasing worries that Wayne County, like its largest city, could be facing emergency management. That should be alarming to all of us for the same reason Detroit’s troubles are.</span></p><p> Thu, 26 Jun 2014 16:34:49 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 18161 at http://michiganradio.org Wayne county is so Democratic the only election that really counts is the August primary