Jennifer White

Host - All Things Considered

Jennifer White is Michigan Radio's All Things Considered host. Jenn has served as Executive Producer and host of the television program, "Out of the Blue: The Michigan Difference," on the Big Ten Network.

She was also the host of the nationally distributed public radio documentary "Finding Our Bootstraps: Americans Deal With Recession," and has served as Executive Producer and host of the public television programs "Out of the Box" and "Edible Legacies."

Recently, she has moderated several political forums, including gubernatorial and mayoral debates for both public radio and television. A native of Detroit and graduate of the University of Michigan, she has worked at Michigan Public Media since 1999, most recently as the station's Director of Media Outreach and Community Relations. From 2005-2009, she served as Station Manager for Michigan Television, WFUM-TV.

State of Opportunity / Michigan Radio

Join us this afternoon at 2 p.m. for a special call-in show. We'll examine the disparities that exist in our society, and how they make it more difficult for children to break out of the cycle of poverty.

Michigan Radio reporters are working on a new three-year initiative to explore the issue of children living in poverty here Michigan. State of Opportunity captures the stories of children and families struggling to make ends meet. We’re going beyond the statistics and exploring what it takes to make Michigan a place where our every kid have a chance to build a positive future.

“Our project kind of has two ways at looking at these issues. We look at statistics, we look at data, and we look at trends. But then when we talk to the individuals, the individual stories don’t always match up with those trends,” reporter Dustin Dwyer said.

Reporter Jennifer Guerra is currently working on a documentary about the infant mortality rate in the state. She says the information she found was staggering. “Infant mortality is still a big problem in Michigan. We’re above the national average for the past twenty years,” she said.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

On Thursdays we talk Michigan politics with Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

This week, Governor Snyder proposed changes to how Blue Cross-Blue Shield, the state’s largest health insurance provider, will operate.  Plus, legislation that would help Detroit and other cities provide street lighting seems dead, at least for now.

Paula Poundstone is one of the funniest people in Public Radio. You can hear her test her knowledge of the news, and throw in a few quips on Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me. This Friday, she’ll be performing at the Ford Community Performing Arts Center.

About thirteen years ago, when Poundstone started with Wait Wait, the show was produced mostly in-studio.

“The show was still really, really fun to do. But it definitely and obviously took on a stronger energy by virtue of having a responsive crowd in from of us, which is really, really fun,” she said.

Poundstone draws comical inspiration from the crowd during her stand-up as well.

“My favorite part of the night is, I do a time honored, ‘where are you from, what do you do for a living?’ And little biographies emerge, and I kind of use that to set my sails for what to talk about,” she said.

Go here to find out more this Friday's event.

After a review of Allen Park's finances by a state-appointed team, Governor Snyder declared that the city is in a financial emergency. That finding could lead to the appointment of an emergency financial manager to try to get the city on stable financial ground. 

While the Allen Park city council was in favor a state review of the city's finances, the Mayor and the Mayor Pro Tem opposed the request. Mayor William Matakas says he will advise the council to challenge the state's findings.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Michigan delegates are at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina this week. Michigan Radio’s Lester Graham is covering the event, and gave us his impressions about this year’s convention.

Graham said there’s some concern about whether there is enough enthusiasm to get the vote out for President Obama this year, as opposed to four years ago.

“Michigan Democrats seem to be convinced that if they can get the vote out, they’ll be doing fine, that Michigan will be a blue state again, and that Barack Obama will be re-elected as President,” he said.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Three ballot proposals will appear on the November ballot. But four others are in limbo until the Michigan Supreme Court rules on them.

Depending upon how the court rules, voters could find themselves with up to seven questions to answer on the ballot. You can read more about the seven proposals here.

Logan Chadde / Michigan Radio

The Book of Jonah is the new album from Nadir Omowale.  It’s a blend of soul music, rock, funk and blues. While there are songs about love and relationships, themes of social and political consciousness carry through the album.

“I never felt like I had to fashion myself into one particular style. I grew up on Prince and The Time and Cameo and all that good stuff, and so funk is all deep within my soul. And I grew up in a small town in east Tennessee, so there were country music influences, there was a lot of Van Halen and rock and roll and so I love all of that music," Nadir told Michigan Radio's Jennifer White.

Religious themes are also found in his work. Nadir says growing up within a Baptist family in Tennessee has influenced him greatly.  Although his new album is not as political as his last, Distorted Soul 2.0, he says his interest in politics and culture continues.

"And it's really inspired by a lot of the struggles that we've dealt with here in Michigan, and in Detroit especially, and what I've seen over the last couple of years is so much positive energy building as we're moving forward," said Nadir.

Listen to the full interview above to hear more about Nadir's newest album The Book of Jonah, including the song he wrote with guitarist and singer Mayaeni, titled 95 Miles Down the Road.

And click on the video below to see Nadir performing in our studio:

CedarBendDrive/flickr

It was a busy day for lawmakers at the State Capital on Wednesday. They came in from summer recess for a one day session.

Out of that meeting, Gov. Snyder is expected to sign legislation that will require teachers and school employees to pay more for health insurance and pensions.

Courtesy: www.london2012.com

With the London games behind us, cities across the country are welcoming back their hometown Olympians. This week, Canton, Michigan welcomed home swimmer Allison Schmitt.

At 22, Schmitt won three gold medals, one silver medal, and one bronze medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.  She won gold in the women's 200m freestyle with an Olympic record time.

A Wayne County Circuit judge has ruled that some Detroit schools will remain in a new district for low-performing schools despite a ballot proposal challenging a state law that allowed the move, according to an Associated Press report.

The judge told emergency manager Roy Roberts today that the Detroit Board of Education regains academic control of remaining schools in the district pending the November election outcome on Michigan's emergency manager law.

Until then, state-appointed managers of financially distressed cities and school districts have to operate under the law's predecessor, which gives them only financial oversight.

Board members sought to reverse Roberts' movement of 15 schools into the Education Achievement Authority, claiming it falls under their academic control.

Detroit Public Schools Board President, LaMar Lemmons talks with Michigan Radio's Jennifer White about today's hearing and what steps the board will take next.

The Ambassador Bridge.
Lester Graham

The question of whether to build a new bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario has been the source of ongoing conflict between Gov. Snyder and Matty Moroun, owner of the Ambassador Bridge Company.

Reporter Lester Graham, with Michigan Watch, will bring us a special five-part series on the debate about building a new bridge. The series begins on Monday August 13.

kelbycarr/flickr

When a person decides to enter politics, they may be a little lost about how get their foot in the door. They might not know what holding office really requires.

The Michigan Political Leadership Program at Michigan State University works to help up-and-comers get a handle on the world of politics.

Michigan Municipal League / Flickr

The referendum on Public Act 4, Michigan’s Emergency Manager Law is now slated to appear on the November ballot. Once the question is formally placed on the ballot, PA4 would be suspended.

Gov. Snyder and Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette both say that the state will then revert to Public Act 72, the Emergency Financial Manager Law for cities and schools currently under state control.

But Flint’s City Council President, Scott Kincaid says Flint doesn’t need an emergency financial manager.

Joyce Parker

The Highland Park School District in Wayne County faces major financial problems. Emergency Manager Joyce Parker has selected a charter school provider, The Leona Group LLC, to operate the district’s schools starting this fall.

The decision to turn the district over to a charter operator is not without controversy. Parker says she considered several options, such as consolidating the school district with other districts and even bankruptcy.

Parker says the district is no longer eligible for state funding and adds she needed to make sure students were able to start classes in September.

“The charter district system is one that would allow financial resources in the form of state aid to come into the new system to support educating the students.”

Michigan Municipal League

The Michigan Supreme Court on Wednesday heard arguments on whether a referendum on Public Act 4, the Emergency Manager Law, should appear on the November ballot. 

As you might remember the Board of State Canvassers was asked to determine whether the petitions were printed in the correct font size. But they deadlocked and the issue went to the Michigan Court Appeals, which made a confusing ruling about precedent. And so now we’re now at the Supreme Court.

Michigan House Democrats

Since most of the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, Michigan has been facing the ongoing of issue of implementing a Michigan health care exchange.

While Republican Gov. Rick Snyder has long called for the state to move ahead with the exchanges, many Republicans in the legislature are pushing back.

There is also a call from Republican members of the legislature and Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, to wait until after the election in November to move forward.

billschuette.com

On the heels of the Supreme Court decision upholding the majority of the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act, U.S. House Republicans are poised to vote to repeal it. But the effort is largely symbolic.

According to the Associated Press, the White House says the repeal would cost millions of American families the security of affordable health coverage and that President Obama would veto a repeal.

mattileo / flickr

Every Thursday we look at Michigan politics with Ken Sikkema, former Senate majority leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service.

Republicans in the Legislature got a bit of a surprise this week when Gov. Snyder vetoed three of the 14 new bills related to voting. What would those three vetoed bills have done?

Patricia Drury / flickr

It’s been a few months since the city of Detroit and the state entered into a consent agreement aimed at stabilizing the city’s finances. Since then, the financial advisory board has been formed, but there have been a few hiccups in the city’s progress, including a lawsuit brought by the city’s corporation counsel challenging the validity of the consent agreement.

Stephen Henderson is editorial page editor for the Free Press and the host of "American Black Journal.” He joined us to talk about developments around the consent agreement.

Jennifer White: Do you have a sense of whether progress in being made towards stabilizing the city?

Stephen Henderson: Well a little bit of progress has been made. We got some of the money the state promised to extend to us to keep the city from going bankrupt, and they sold about $80 million worth of bonds in the spring to do that. The second part of that funding though has been held up by this dispute about the city’s corporation counsel, and whether she can sue to stop the consent agreement from taking place. So that’s at least a little bit on hold right now. But of course we got some good news recently because the fiscal year changed over here in Detroit over the weekend. July 1 was the beginning of our fiscal year and so the city is a little bit cash rich right now, even though we still have a structural deficit. So, I think the emergency part of this might be subsiding but we still have big questions about how we’ll manage going forward.

JW:You mentioned the lawsuit brought forward by Krystal Crittendon, the city’s corporation counsel, challenging the consent agreement’s validity, and there was considerable push back from Mayor Bing and the Snyder administration. That included the threat that $28 million in revenue would be withheld from the city. When will there be resolution on that?

SH:I don’t know. That’s a big problem because she asserts that she can, on her own without the support of the mayor, challenge this agreement. Most lawyers and most judges in fact that I’ve talked to say that there’s no way she should be able to do that, but we have a city charter that does not make that terribly clear. So really to solve that problem we have to get back in to the charter and amend it. Of course it would all go away if she would just relent and say it’s not worth holding up the city’s entire existence over this question. But she’s been unable, or unwilling to do that so far.

JW:Does she have the support of city council members?

mattileo / flickr

Every Thursday we look at Michigan politics with Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service, and Ken Sikkema, former senate majority leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

In what some are calling a surprising decision today, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act. Michigan lawmakers were reacting to the decision throughout the day. Governor Snyder said he doesn’t like the law but he is going to try to follow it.

Allieosmar / Flickr

Every Thursday Michigan Radio's Jennifer White talks Michigan politics with Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service, and Ken Sikkema, former state Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

It's been a week, now, since Democratic State Representative Lisa Brown was barred from speaking on the state House floor for using the word "vagina" during a debate on anti-abortion legislation. State Representative Barbara Byrum, a Democrat, was also banned from speaking on the floor because she spoke out of turn.

White, Demas and Sikkema explore why this story just won't seem to go away.

Infographic on literacy.
Thea Card / Michigan Radio

It’s one of the most fundamental parts of our daily lives. Something you have probably taken for granted.

It's the ability to read.

In the United States, more than 40 percent of adults with very low literacy live in poverty.

One in five Americans read below the level needed to earn a living wage.

And more than 70 percent of the U.S. prison population cannot read above a fourth grade level.

In collaboration with WBEZ's Front & Center project, Michigan Radio peels back the layers of low-literacy.

In our hour-long show, we explore the impacts that illiteracy has on our communities and what literacy, in an every changing digital world, will really mean in our future.

Literacy is a big issue of concern for our educational system. Illiteracy can prevent people from filling out a job application or earning living wage. It also affects your civic participation.

Take a listen to our show using the "listen" button above, and share your thoughts with us!

J. Stephen Conn / Flickr

Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley is continuing to push for the need to secure an additional international border crossing between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario. The new bridge would directly connect Michigan’s freeway system with that of its most important trading partner, Canada.

Calley says the Snyder administration will continue to plow ahead with “the end-to-end border solution that Michigan manufacturing needs,” despite some anticipated pushback.

“We don’t have a final determination of the plan as of yet, although we’re zeroing in. I do expect that the owners of the Ambassador Bridge will continue the campaign of deceit and the campaign of lies on what the proposal actually is," Calley says.

wmrice / Flicker

It's a big day in Wisconsin as voters in that state are deciding whether or not to recall their Republican Governor Scott Walker. Here in Michigan, however, Republican Governor Rick Snyder is faring a little better.

Laughlin Elkind / Flickr

Every Thursday we look at Michigan politics with Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

Mayor Dave Bing yesterday announced that he and the Detroit City Council have come to an agreement on the city's 2012-2013 budget.

The Mayor is also attending the Mackinac Policy Conference but has avoided telling reporters outright whether he plans to run for reelection.

This week, legislators, policy makers, and business leaders are gathering for the annual Mackinac Policy Conference.

The conference is sponsored by the Detroit Regional Chamber and this year organizers say they hope the conference will "spur a comprehensive dialogue on innovation, collaboration and the 21st century global market."

John Dingell is a Democrat representing Michigan's 15th Congressional District in the U.S. House.

He wrote an op-ed about the conference. It appeared in the Detroit News today.

In the op-ed, Dingell wrote about his desire for lawmakers to come together in a more bi-partisan way. He told Michigan Radio's Jenn White that there are a number of barriers to the bi-partisanship.

"Excessive partisanship is something which is both a reality and an end in itself to a lot of people who participate," Dingell said. "It's encouraged by media and 10-15 second soundbite and it is encouraged by the fact that politics has become a blood sport. Cheap shots are the way of the day and that we have somewhat forgotten the original intention of the founding fathers that we are to work together in the broader public interest."

He says the people have to understand that this is "our" country.

Dingell quotes his father who used to to say "we cannot look at the other fellow in the boat and say 'pardon me sir, but you're end of the boat is sinking.' We are all in this thing together."

Every Thursday we talk Michigan politics with Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service.

The Snyder Administration and the legislature are working to complete work on the state budget, and it sounds like they’ve made some progress towards a final deal.

Community PlanIt screen shot.

Community meetings about the future of Detroit neighborhoods wrap up this week.

The Detroit Works Project focuses on how to make neighborhoods more viable, and how to keep current residents while attracting new people to the city.

Dan Pitera is co-leader of Civic Engagement for Detroit Works long-term planning. He is also also a professor of architecture at the University of Detroit-Mercy.

Some main concerns from Detroit residents, Pitera said “are safety for everybody, education and health for everybody in the city.”

Detroit Works has used several methods to engage the Detroit community. One of the newest is an online video game called Detroit 24/7. “Some people love to go to meetings, other people don’t,” Pitera said.

So far more than 900 people are playing the game, which lets players describe what they encounter everyday as they move around the city of Detroit, point out the pros and cons, and then suggest strategies that can improve the city. The idea is to engage a younger population, those ages 18 to 35.

“It actually deals with many of the same issues we are dealing with in the community conversations but done online, and we are attracting those people that are not going to meetings.”

According to Pitera, the intention of the project has been to first collect data from city residents, and then create city wide strategies that are informed by what is happening in different neighborhoods.

Rep. Bledsoe's official website

Florida caught lots of attention after the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, a Florida teen. On trial for the killing is George Zimmerman who claims he acted under Florida’s “stand your ground” law.

Michigan is among several states with laws similar to Florida’s. Michigan’s “stand your ground” law was revised in 2006 by bipartisan majorities in the legislature. It was signed into law by Jennifer Granholm, who was the Democratic governor at the time.

Now, more than a dozen Democratic Michigan House members have introduced legislation to repeal the law.

Democratic Representative Tim Bledsoe sponsored House Bill 5644. “I think the Trayvon Martin case really showed us the problem with having a law like “stand your ground," he said.

According to Bledsoe, Michigan has another self-defense law called the Castle Doctrine, which states that a person has the right to defend themselves, their family and their property in their home.

“Our effort to repeal the "stand your ground" law does not in any way affect the Castle Doctrine. But what we are seeing is that, if you are in a public place, and you are in a confrontation, and there is this opportunity for you to retreat, you must take advantage of that opportunity to retreat,” said Bledsoe.

The Democratic representative said although he has not identified any case in Michigan where the "stand your ground" law has been used in self defense, he said "We see this more in terms of acting in a preemptive way to try to avoid situations like the Trayvon Martin case here in Michigan."

Rep. Bledsoe said he and others will continue to seek out public support to pressure legislators to repeal the law.

Every Thursday we take a look at Michigan politics with Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service, and Ken Sikkema, Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

The big political story in Michigan this week was the decision from Representative Roy Schmidt to switch his party affiliation from Democratic to Republican, about 10 minutes before the filing deadline for this fall’s election.

This November, Schmidt will try to hold onto his House seat in Michigan’s 76th district, which includes Grand Rapids.

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