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Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

President Donald Trump delivered his first speech to a joint session of Congress last night. This Week in Michigan Politics, Morning Edition host Doug Tribou and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about issues Trump touched on that resonate in Michigan, including a proposed $1 trillion investment in infrastructure nationwide.

Six years ago, Governor Rick Snyder found a way to conclude a deal with Canada to build a new bridge across the Detroit River, something vitally needed if Michigan’s economy is to prosper in the years ahead.

As of now, we are completely dependent on the almost 90-year-old Ambassador Bridge, which shows clear signs of wearing out, and which wasn’t built for today’s massive tractor-trailers. About $2 billion in trade moves across that bridge every week, mainly heavy industrial components that can’t go through the tunnel.

Bryan McDonald / Flickr Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Trump administration has alarmed transgender students and their families, according to the advocacy group Stand with Trans.

The group is looking to update the Michigan transgender community and educators at an informational session on Wednesday night about transgender students' rights at schools in Michigan.

The Trump administration recently rescinded federal guidelines that made clear that Title IX protects transgender youth from discrimination in schools and colleges.

U.S. Capitol.
user Ottojula / Wikimedia Commons

President Trump addressed a joint session of Congress tonight.

His address came a day after he gave an outline of his budget plan for Congress, which would increase defense spending and make cuts to domestic programs.

Jewish Community Center and Hebrew Day School in Ann Arbor, which received a bomb threat on February 27.
Kate Wells

 

In the last few weeks, intimidating acts have been aimed at Jewish and Muslim communities in Michigan. In Ann Arbor, a bomb threat forced the evacuation of a Hebrew Day School. In Dearborn, threats have been called into Muslim community centers and mosques.

Wilson Hui / Flickr

A bottled water company wants to speed up the pace of its business. Nestle is asking the state for permission to pump more water from the Muskegon River watershed.

The company has already started construction to upgrade its water bottling plant in Mecosta County.

Environmental groups are asking the state Department of Environmental Quality to slow down the approval process.

Jeff Ostahowski is with the Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation.

Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s senior U.S. senator is accusing the Trump administration of siding with “special interests” by delaying the release of a new report on Asian carp and the Great Lakes.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been studying ways to prevent Asian carp from getting into Lake Michigan through the Brandon Road Lock and Dam in Illinois. 

But the corps’ draft plan will not be released as expected this week. A corps spokesman says more time is needed to “coordinate” with other agencies and stakeholders. He wouldn’t give a new release date.

Schaetzl said glaciers carved out all of Michigan's peninsulas.
Screen grab Google Maps / Google

What's the story behind Michigan's Thumb?

COURTESY OF MICHIGAN DEPT. OF TREASURY

Michigan’s chief economist, Jay Wortley, is retiring after 36 years of state government service. During that time, the state has faced the triplicate challenge of a declining population, deurbanization in its major cities, and a series of employment swings in the all-important auto industry.

As chief economist, one of Wortley’s primary responsibilities was to accurately estimate future tax revenues based on forecasts of economic growth and recessions.

kevinwburkett / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

In May of 1936, when Detroit resident Charles Poole climbed into a car with Dayton Dean and Ervin Lee, he thought he was going to a meeting that might land him a position at an axle factory and a spot on the factory’s baseball team.

Unemployment in Michigan was high and Poole did not have a full-time job. Any opportunity for work was worth pursuing.

What Poole did not know was that Dean and Lee were members of an organization called the Black Legion. After driving to an unpopulated area outside of Dearborn, they took Poole out of the car and shot him.

Inside the Michigan Senate
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The League of Conservation Voters has released its annual National Environmental Scorecard. It shows how members of Congress voted on environmental issues. This year, the group found a deep partisan divide.

Charlotte Jameson is the government affairs director for the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. The group just published its own scorecard for the state Legislature.

USA National Phenology Network, www.usanpn.org

Scientists have known that spring is arriving earlier across the U.S. because of climate change. Now, you can take a look at new maps from the U.S. Geological Survey to see how early spring is arriving where you live.

Jake Weltzin is an ecologist with the USGS, and the executive director of the National Phenology Network.

"The folks down in the southeastern United States, across much of that region, are seeing spring coming as many as three weeks early this year," he says.

I took my friend Guy to lunch last week, the same day the President of the United States declared that members of my profession were “enemies of the people.”

Guy is one of the most amazing people I know, and I wanted to know what he was thinking. He told me that after the election turned out badly, his father talked to his family at the dinner table.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Downtown Detroit is in a revival, but neighborhoods across the city are still declining. One of the reasons is the onslaught of tax foreclosures.  Those foreclosure mean more vacant houses. Soon the homes are stripped by scrappers, and the destruction can affect the whole block.

Ulysses Jones drove me around his neighborhood, MorningSide, on Detroit’s east side. He’s with a community organization also called MorningSide.

Anti-Israeli billboard by Deir Yassin Remembered
Henry Herskovitz

An anti-Semitic group that's been protesting at a synagogue in Ann Arbor was added to a national hate group list earlier this month.

The group "Dier Yassin Remembered" (sometimes referred to as “Witnesses for Peace”) has picketed outside the Beth Israel synagogue with anti-Israeli messages for over a decade now.

In recent years, the group has largely been promoting its message “America First, Not Israel,” which was posted on multiple billboards in southeast Michigan.

Inside the Michigan Senate
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Plans to overhaul how Michigan deals with struggling schools will see continued discussion this week in a state Senate committee.

 

State lawmakers have been working for weeks to overhaul how Michigan deals with struggling schools. The committee is currently trying to find the best ways to judge student performance, and grade schools.

 

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Michigan has a law on the books that grants the police immunity from prosecution if they’ve had sex with a prostitute during an investigation.

Michigan is the only remaining state we know of which still grants that immunity, but that might change.

Michigan State Capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

 

A bill in the Michigan Legislature would require all state contractors and subcontractors to check the citizenship status of their employees. Bill sponsor State Representative Jim Runestad, R-White Lake, wants to prevent Michigan citizens from losing jobs to “black market” labor.

Courtesy of John Semper Jr.

In the D.C. Comics universe, Superman has Metropolis, Batman has Gotham, and now Cyborg has Detroit.

When D.C. rebooted its universe a few years ago, the superhero Cyborg got a promotion. He joined Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman as part of the Justice League and has become a higher-profile character. 

The origin of the term "gerrymandering" comes from a political cartoon from March of 1812. This was drawn in reaction to the newly-drawn state senate election district of South Essex created by the Massachusetts legislature to favor
J. Albert Bowden II / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

If you ask a roomful of voters if they think gerrymandering is an issue, it's a fair bet most of the people would raise their hands, regardless whether they were a Republican, Democrat, or independent.

There are several groups in the state looking at the issue for the 2020 the ballot. The group Voters Not Politicians is not waiting that long. It wants to put something on the ballot in 2018.

American Ginseng
Flickr user Forest Farming / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

We know hunters who take deer or goose out of season are poachers. But what about those who take a plant from a park or a reserve without permission?

They too are poachers and plant poaching can be a huge, illegal business.

Removing the Boardman Dam will restore the river to its "historic route," according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Work will soon begin to remove the Boardman dam from the river of the same name near Traverse City.

Monday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced a $6.3 million contract with the Wisconsin-based firm Michels Corporation to begin removal in the spring.

Carl Platz with the Army Corps of Engineers says removing the idle hydroelectric dams is part of a larger slate of projects aimed at restoring the Boardman River ecosystem.

Liesl Clark said Michigan is taking more older, coal-fired power plants offline because they are uneconomical to run.
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The Next Idea

Michiganders might be using electricity the wrong way. A new report indicates Michigan might be able to meet projected energy shortfalls if residents change how they use power. That would save having to build new, expensive power plants.

Teacher and students at Flint's Southwestern Academy.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There’s new legislation that may help more Flint school children go to college.

Ten Michigan communities are designated as so-called "promise zones."

The communities raise money, by means including tax increment financing, to pay for students to receive a college education.

State Sen. Jim Ananich’s (D-Flint) new bill would add Flint to that list.

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

After 12 years as Lansing’s mayor, Virg Bernero says he won’t seek re-election this fall.

Bernero says he will step down as mayor when his term ends in 10 months, citing his family as his reason to not seek re-election.

During his tenure, the Capitol city has weathered the Great Recession, which forced deep budget cuts due to lost tax revenue. Nevertheless, Bernero says Lansing received millions of dollars of economic development during that time as well.

Downtown Jackson, Michigan.
user hor Criticalthinker / Wikimedia Commons

DETROIT (AP) - A full federal appeals court will consider whether a Michigan county's tradition of Christian-only prayers at public meetings violates the U.S. Constitution.

The order on Monday by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals vacates a ruling earlier this month by a three-judge panel of the court that said prayers by the Jackson County Board of Commissioners were unconstitutional. In that 2-1 decision, the court ruled in favor of a Jackson County resident who was offended after he began attending county commissioner meetings in 2013 to discuss environmental issues.

Takata airbags.
NHTSA

DETROIT - Attorneys for people suing air bag maker Takata and five automakers say the car companies knew that the company's products were dangerous yet continued to use them for years because they were inexpensive.

The allegations against Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Ford and BMW were made in a document filed Monday with a federal court in Miami. The court is handling pretrial evidence-gathering in dozens of lawsuits against Takata and the automakers. The document says the allegations are partly based on auto company documents.

Yousef Ajin stands with his family. His wife and kids are U.S. citizens. He has been working toward citizenship, but now faces the possibility of being deported.
screen shot from Donal Harrison's Vimeo video.

Update Feb. 28, 4:21 p.m.:

Our reporter Sarah Cwiek attended Yousef Ajin's hearing today. 

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

A bomb threat forced children to evacuate from Hebrew Day School in Ann Arbor Monday morning, as similar threats were reported in Florida, Pennsylvania, Alabama, New Jersey and other states.

An unidentified man called the Hebrew Day School just after 9 am, claiming there was a bomb in a backpack that was about to detonate, according to police.

State House Speaker Tom Leonard (R-DeWitt) is figuring out his next move after his income tax rollback tanked in the House last week. It was an embarrassing defeat largely the result of putting the bill up before the Speaker knew the votes were there. And he ran into a hard-dozen fellow Republicans who, along with all but one of the Democrats, torpedoed what was supposed to be a marquee moment in the early days of this session.

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