Jack Lessenberry

Essay/Analysis: Political Commentator

A Detroit native, Jack recognized that he wanted to become a journalist during his graduate studies at the University of Michigan. (He had previously set out to be a historian.) Now, he boasts thirty years of eclectic journalism experience. Jack has worked as a foreign correspondent and executive national editor of The Detroit News, and he has written for many national and regional publications, including Vanity Fair, Esquire, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, and The Oakland Press.

Currently, he is a professor of journalism at Wayne State University and a contributing editor and columnist for The Metro Times, The Traverse-City Record Eagle, and The Toledo Blade...in addition to his work at Michigan Radio.

Throughout his years of journalism experience, his favorite memories are of interviewing Gerald Ford about Watergate in 1995 and winning a national Emmy for a documentary about Jack Kevorkian in 1994.

On a personal note, Jack stopped watching TV -- except for documentaries -- when Mr. Ed was canceled.

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Politics & Government
11:17 am
Wed November 14, 2012

The week in Michigan politics

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Interview

This week Christina Shockley and Jack Lessenberry discuss the chance of Michigan Congressman Mike Rogers taking over David Petreaus' position as director of the Central Intelligence Agency, what would happen if Michigan misses the Friday deadline to create a statewide online exchange for people to shop for health insurance and how Detroit's finances could affect the rest of the state.

Politics & Government
11:24 am
Tue November 13, 2012

Commentary: Now just build the bridge

This has been a bad year for Matty Moroun, the billionaire owner of the Ambassador Bridge. In January, he was thrown in jail overnight, for failing to comply with court orders to live up to an agreement he’d signed to finish a road project near his bridge.

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Politics & Government
8:56 am
Mon November 12, 2012

Commentary: Right to work?

There’s no doubt that the Michigan labor movement badly blundered by spending millions in its failed effort to get a constitutional amendment protecting collective bargaining on the ballot this year. The amendment went down to a stunning defeat.

Worse, as could have been predicted, the labor movement’s enemies in the legislature are now calling for the enactment of a so-called right to work law, which would outlaw the union shop.

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Politics & Government
9:00 am
Sat November 10, 2012

The week in review

Credit David Defoe / flickr

On Weekend Edition,  Rina Miller talks with Michigan Radio's political analyst Jack Lessenberry about some of the biggest news stories of the week. This week they discuss election turn out, how marijuana laws have been eased in some cities in the state, and the possible change to how public defense attorneys are appointed in Michigan.

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Politics & Government
10:34 am
Fri November 9, 2012

Commentary: Election aftermath

Essay

Matt Robb is a 27-year-old from the Leelanau Peninsula, who believes in trying to make this a better world. He was a golf star at Michigan State University, but instead of turning pro, chose to become a high school teacher. After a few years in charter schools, he is now a teacher at Cody High School in Detroit.

On election night, at the precise moment Mitt Romney was making his concession speech, a man wearing a ski mask and a long coat approached Matt’s truck parked in his apartment’s garage.

He took out a can of spray paint and wrote the N word on his truck, followed by the word “lover.”  He was captured by a security camera, writing these two words over and over.

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Politics & Government
12:45 pm
Thu November 8, 2012

Commentary: The abbreviated congressman

Essay

I really don’t envy anybody, with the possible exception of my dog, who is going to spend his day napping while I run around Detroit. But part of me would like to be David Curson for the next few weeks.  Dave just got himself unexpectedly elected to Congress.

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Politics & Government
11:31 am
Wed November 7, 2012

Commentary: Ballot proposal downfall

You have to wonder what Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun thought, when it was clear the proposed constitutional amendment he designed to protect his monopoly was going down to a stunning defeat.

Moroun spent at least $33 million trying to get voters to say yes to his Proposal 6, which would have required a statewide vote before any new bridge or tunnel was built between Michigan and Canada. First, he paid to have the signatures collected.

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Politics & Government
8:17 am
Wed November 7, 2012

The week in Michigan politics

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Interview

We have a special "Week in Michigan politics."

Morning Edition host Christina Shockley talks with political analyst Jack Lessenberry about the election results.

They talk about Obama's victory in the state, who won the Congressional races, how voters rejected all ballot proposals and much more.

Politics & Government
7:21 am
Tue November 6, 2012

Commentary: Election Day and history

The incumbent president was a Democrat, a controversial figure whose legitimacy was doubted by millions, right from the start. His Republican challenger was a Michigan native, but one who left the state after high school, and moved east.

He found fame and fortune, and was eventually elected governor of his adopted state, then won the right to take on the sitting president. His followers, including the Wall Street Journal and the Detroit News, were convinced his election was necessary to save the nation from government spending run amok.

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Politics & Government
1:20 pm
Mon November 5, 2012

Commentary: Election scandals

Brian Banks has eight felony convictions on his record, for things like bad checks and credit card fraud.

His landlord had him evicted from a rental property in Harper Woods last week, saying he had written bad checks and not paid his rent. Additionally, he was evicted from a second home in that city and a court ordered him to pay a nearly $4,000 judgment.

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Election 2012
10:35 am
Fri November 2, 2012

Commentary: Something in America has changed

The election is now only four days away, and I’ve been thinking about what will happen afterward.

Earlier this week, I received a nasty phone call from a woman named Bonnie.

She believes President Obama is evil, and a traitor.

She thinks the media are covering up the truth behind the killing of the American ambassador to Libya.

She was also upset that we are covering up the “fact,” as she put it, that President Obama’s family were all Communists.

I told her, in not very polite terms, that was idiotic.

She began screaming and I hung up.

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Politics & Government
8:55 am
Thu November 1, 2012

Commentary: Money, and more money

A week from now, the election will be over, we’ll have more or less digested what happened, and go back to contemplating the other daily dilemmas of life in our state.

There’s the issue of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, which wants to move from being a tightly regulated charity to being a normal non-profit, with much more freedom to do what it wants, and less responsibility to provide coverage for the uninsured.

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Politics & Government
8:36 am
Wed October 31, 2012

Commentary: Halloween politics

First, the good news. A week from now, this election will be over. No more ads, no more lies, no more charges and counter-charges. Do you know one person who regrets that, or who isn’t heartily sick of the campaign at all levels, including the candidates?

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Politics & Government
8:26 am
Wed October 31, 2012

The week in Michigan politics

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The week in Michigan politics interview

Every week Michigan Radio talks with political analyst Jack Lessenberry about what's been happening in Michigan politics.

This week Lessenberry and Kyle Norris talked about how Governor Rick Snyder is campaigning against all of the ballot proposals except for Proposal 1. Prop 1 involves emergency managers. And how Proposal 5, the proposal that deals with raising taxes, seems to be the most confusing and controversial proposal.

Norris and Lessenberry also discussed if Hurricane Sandy will influence Michigan voters, and how a recent Romney campaign ad claims the auto bailout resulted in GM using that money to hire more workers in China than in the U.S. Lessenberry says the ad isn't true.

Politics & Government
8:36 am
Tue October 30, 2012

Commentary: Devil’s night and the witching hour

I’m writing this with rain coming down, the wind howling, tree limbs down all over the place, and I‘m feeling lucky.

Lucky, that is, to be as far away as we are from the eastern seaboard. It almost seems as if we are in someone else’s screenplay. After all, doesn’t this sound like a made-for-TV movie? We are a week before a close presidential election. Suddenly, the mother of all storms hits. A freak hurricane mixed with a winter storm, in the wrong place at the wrong time. The nation is filled with uncertainty over what this means for the election, and for the country itself.

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Politics & Government
12:30 pm
Mon October 29, 2012

Commentary: Staggering sums for the ballot proposals

There’s a week to go before election day, and increasingly, the big story, or maybe big scandal in Michigan is the six ballot proposals -- and the vast amounts of money being poured into them.

Michigan, whatever the pundits pretend, is not really a swing state, not anymore. It’s been months since either President Obama or Governor Romney has visited the state. This year’s race for the U.S. Senate is virtually invisible. But the ballot proposals are anything but.  And unbelievable amounts of money have been spent on them.

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Politics & Government
9:00 am
Sat October 27, 2012

The week in review

Credit David Defoe / flickr

Week in review

Every Saturday Michigan Radio's Rina Miller talks with political analyst Jack Lessenberry about the week's top news stories in the region. This week they talked about the upcoming election, the status of Michigan's auto industry as GM and Ford are feeling the pinch of Europe's weak economy, and how campaign signs are now allowed in bars and restaurants.

Politics & Government
12:51 pm
Fri October 26, 2012

Commentary: Our founding father

Tomorrow is the 201st birthday of a politician you may never have heard of, who nevertheless may have had a bigger influence on shaping our state than anyone.

His friends called him Tom. Tom Mason.  And here are some of the most remarkable things about him. He was put in charge of the Michigan territory at age 19, before he could even vote.

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Politics & Government
9:14 am
Thu October 25, 2012

Commentary: The renewable energy amendment

I suspect some people are having a harder time deciding how to vote on the renewable energy amendment -- Proposal 3 -- than on any of the other five proposals on this year’s ballot.

The others are pretty straightforward. Either you think the emergency manager law is necessary, or you don’t.  Either you think collective bargaining should be a constitutional right, or you don’t.

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Politics & Government
8:24 am
Wed October 24, 2012

Commentary: Should we have early voting?

If you are a politician, or promoting one of the ballot proposals and want to influence my vote, don’t waste your time.

I voted a week ago, by absentee ballot, even though I may be home on election day. I can do that because I am 60 years old. Hey, you should be able to get some benefit out of being 60.

But here’s the thing. Unless you are my age or older, you can’t legally get an absentee ballot, except in a very few cases, mostly if you know you are going to be in jail on election day, or out of town.

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