Mercedes Mejia

Reporter/Producer

Mercedes Mejia produces interviews for All Things Considered, including the music segment Songs from Studio East. She also produces content for Stateside. Mercedes relocated to Michigan from New Mexico, where she earned her BA in Latin American Studies and Journalism. She began in public radio as a reporter at KUNM in Albuquerque. She brings extensive video production skills from her work at Univision and Edit House Production.

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Weekly Political Roundup
4:45 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

What might the Michigan Legislature do in 2014?

Graham Davis flickr

It’s Thursday, the day we talk Michigan politics with Ken Sikkema, former Senate majority leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics.

The legislature has wrapped up session for the year. And, after the holidays we’re entering an election year. Let's find out, besides the gubernatorial election, what other major elections should we be watching next year, and what might the legislature accomplish in 2014?

Newsmaker Interview
4:20 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

How will Michigan's abortion law work?

Marianne Udow-Phillips
chrt.org

Last week, the Michigan legislature approved a voter-initiated law that bans abortion coverage in standard health insurance policies. The law does not include exceptions for rape or incest.

Joining us now to help us better understand the new law is Marianne Udow-Phillips, Director of the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation based at the University of Michigan. 

Arts & Culture
1:38 pm
Thu December 5, 2013

Muskegon is home to America's tallest, singing Christmas tree

At Mona Shores High School, students make up the five-story christmas tree.
Mercedes Mejia Michigan Radio

 


A major holiday performance happens this weekend in West Michigan. Students, teachers and parents at Mona Shores High School have spent thousands of hours preparing for the event, where they create a living breathing, and singing Christmas Tree — that’s five-stories tall, and holds more than 200 student singers.

It’s getting lots of national attention. In 2011, TLC featured the tree on its aptly-titled holiday show, “Extreme Christmas Trees.” This year, it’ll be highlighted on the Travel Channel.

The show is now in its 29th year.

Almost 300 hundred students from Mona Shores High School have been practicing for this show — held at Muskegon’s Frauenthal Center for Performing Arts — since Labor Day.

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Newsmaker Interview
2:18 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Detroit eligible for bankruptcy, what comes next?

State lawmakers have passed bills allowing the city to keep taxing at certain rates. The legislation awaits Governor Snyder's approval.
Bob Jagendorf Flickr

 Today, Judge Steven Rhodes of the United States Bankruptcy Court ruled that while the City of Detroit did not negotiate with creditors in good faith, it did file for bankruptcy in good faith. His ruling makes Detroit eligible to file for the largest municipal bankruptcy in this country’s history.

David Shepardson, Washington reporter with the Detroit News has been following the bankruptcy. He joined us to talk about this historic ruling, and what to watch for in the coming months. 

Listen to the full interview above.

Newsmaker Interview
4:40 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

StoryCorps celebrates its 10th anniversary

Screenshot.
Storycorps website.

StoryCorps is celebrating its 10th anniversary of bringing us conversations that move us, make us laugh, make us think...and of course, draw some tears. 

Today, we talk with the founder of StoryCorps, David Isay about their new book "Ties that Bind: Stories of Love and Gratitude from the First Ten Years of StoryCorps”.

Weekly Political Roundup
5:03 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

In Lansing, could unexpected legislation pop up?

The chamber of Michigan's House of Representatives in Lansing. Leaders in the Michigan legislature and Governor Granholm are close to an agreement on the budget.
Lester Graham Michigan Radio

Each Thursday we talk Michigan politics with Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

The Michigan legislature is on recess until the first week of December. This feels like a much more subdued legislative session compared to last year. Today we ask, what has the legislature checked off it's list, what bills are likely to come up in December?

Listen to the full interview above.

Newsmaker Interview
5:21 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

What the state could gain by raising the minimum wage

sushi ina flickr

There is legislation pending at the national and state level that seeks to increase the minimum wage. In Michigan it's $7.40 per hour, just over the federal minimum wage of $7.25.  A person working full time and earning the minimum would pull down just over $15,300 per year before taxes. 

Now, there are three bills from Democrats in the state legislature seeking an increase of Michigan’s minimum wage to $9 or $10 per hour. Opponents of those bills say it would lead to layoffs, decreased hours, and a spike in prices. Proponents say now is the time to increase the minimum wage.

Today, we talked with Yannet Lathrop, policy analyst with the Michigan League for Public Policy and author of the study “Raising the Minimum Wage: Good for Working Families, Good for Michigan’s Economy.” 

Listen to the full interview above.

Newsmaker Interview
5:36 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

A fresh face on Detroit City Council

Raquel Castaneda-Lopez, newly elected Detroit City Council member.
raquel4citycouncil.org Facebook

Raquel Castaneda-Lopez is the newest member to the Detroit  City Council representing District 6 in Southwest Detroit,​ which includes the largest concentration of Hispanic voters in the city.  Lopez gained political experience running state Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s campaign in 2008. She has worked with non-profit groups for years with a focus on youth programs in disadvantaged communities.

Lopez says she want to keep the focus on the needs of her constituents - safety and access to city services for example. 

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Weekly Political Roundup
5:34 pm
Thu November 7, 2013

A closer look at this week in Michigan politics

Each week we talk Michigan politics with Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics.

The election results are in and Mike Duggan will be Detroit’s next mayor. His tenure begins while the city remains under the control of an emergency manager. What does his win say about what Detroit voters want in their next mayor?

And then, the city of Royal Oak passed a human rights ordinance, it provides protections against discrimination for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. Also, Lansing, Jackson, and Ferndale all passed ordinances to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana. Does this give us any indication of where Michigan is headed on some of these social issues? 

Listen to the full interview above.

Newsmaker Interview
4:10 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

Federal election monitoring in Detroit, Hamtramck and Flint

Not as many people vote in gubernatorial election years compared to Presidential election years.

It's Election Day, and federal election monitors are keeping an eye on voting in Detroit, Hamtramck and Flint. The Department of Justice wants to ensure those cities comply with the Voting Rights Act. 

Joining us to talk about the monitoring is Executive Assistant United States Attorney, Stephanie Dawkins Davis. 

"This is an effort to protect the integrity of the process. It isn’t that there has been any specific concern or that there has been any wrong doing in any of these jurisdictions. The U.S. government would like to protect the integrity of the process," Davis said.

Education
5:31 pm
Fri November 1, 2013

Breaking the school-to-prison pipeline

Mercedes Mejia

This week, Zak Rosen with State of Opportunity reported on the school-to-prison pipeline. It's known to be pattern seen across the country of students being pushed out of school and into the criminal justice system.

In Rosen's report we learned about Youth Voice, a student lead community organizing group that’s working to break the school-to-prison pipeline and revise Zero Tolerance policies. Today we talk with Chanel Kitchen, a member of Youth Voice.

To learn more about Youth Voice you can visit their Facebook page here

Listen to the full interview with Chanel Kitchen, just click on the link above.

Weekly Political Roundup
5:46 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

A look ahead at Detroit's mayoral election

Mike Duggan, former president and CEO of the Detroit Medical Center (left) and Benny Napolean, Wayne County Sheriff and former Chief of Detroit’s police force are candidates for Detroit mayor.

The city of Detroit will elect a new mayor on Tuesday, November 5. Voters will also decide who will serve on the city council, voting this time by city district.  Joining us today are Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics.

Listen to the full interview above.

Newsmaker Interview
5:04 pm
Tue October 29, 2013

Did the state negotiate in good faith at the Detroit bankruptcy hearing?

This week, Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes is hearing arguments on whether the city of Detroit is eligible for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection. Both Governor Snyder and Detroit Emergency Manger Kevyn Orr have testified. They argue that bankruptcy is Detroit’s only path to solvency.

John Pottow weighed in on the matter on today's Stateside program. Pottow is professor of law at the University of Michigan who specializes in bankruptcy and consumer protection.

"I think the hardest issue about this is this Michigan constitutional provision about protecting the pensions," Pottow said. "This gets to what's animating the objectors and the unions is, why would the governor want to rush Detroit into bankruptcy? It's not what people generally clamor toward. And their concern is that because of this protection the workers have under the state constitution, that the governor might be trying to use the federal bankruptcy law as a way to get around the Michigan constitution."

Listen to the full interview above.

Weekly Political Roundup
5:44 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

What's to prevent a shutdown from happening again?

Capitol Hill, Washington D.C.
whitehouse.gov

After a partial government shutdown that lasted 16 days, an agreement was reached Wednesday night to reopen the government. While both Democratic senators from Michigan voted "yes" on the bill to end the shutdown and raise the debt ceiling, Republicans in the House were split. In today's Weekly Political Roundup, we check in with our political analysts Susan Demas and Ken Sikkema.

No winners on this one

"Polls indicate that this is not a popular move. Everybody took a hit, especially Republicans. They certainly came out the worst in all of this," said Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics. "So, that might be some incentive to not go down this road again, but unfortunately this has become the way that we do business in this country, whenever we have a debt limit or we have to fund the government this becomes a time a great brinksmanship where people want to try and get more of their agenda passed then we have in the past." 

Republicans' "fundamental mistake"

"I think Republicans made a fundamental mistake here in trying to negotiate either an end or major changes to the Affordable Care Act, which they call Obamacare," said Ken Sikkema, former Senate majority leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants. "And, when you are in a negotiating position ... you don't ask the other side to give up on their most fundamentally held position.

"Republicans would have been better off if they had made their position something to do with entitlement reform, or debt reduction or maybe changes in the tax code because Democrats believe that all of those areas need change too. As long as they insist on tying this to de-funding Obamacare or ended Obamacare we are going to see the same result time after time, after time," said Sikkema.

Listen to the full interview above.

Newsmaker Interview
5:19 pm
Tue October 8, 2013

Shutdown slows U.S. Attorney's work in Michigan

Barbara McQuade is the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan.

A partial shutdown of the federal government shutdown is now in day eight. There doesn’t appear to be a resolution in sight which leaves over 800,000 federal employees out of work. That includes people at the U.S. Attorney General’s office in Detroit. Today we talk with Barbara McQuade, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan. Thirty out of almost 200 people are furloughed at her office. 

"That's having an impact on the litigation mission of our office. Most of our criminal litigators are still here handling criminal cases, but it's our civil docket that's really taking a hit," said McQuade.

"Our people are working without pay, which is having a big impact, as you can image, on morale. The people that are furloughed are not being paid, but even the people who are here working are not being paid."

Listen to the full interview above.

That's What They Say
8:35 am
Sun September 29, 2013

What is acceptable, or not, in English?

It's that time again! The time of year when editors at The American Heritage Dictionary send out ballots filled with questions asking what is acceptable, or not, in English.

On this edition of That’s What They Say, Host, Rina Miller and University of Michigan Professor of English, Anne Curzan talk about some of the questions that came up on the usage ballot this year.

Question #1:

It is okay to use nauseous as causing nausea? Example: That was a nauseous rollercoaster.

Curzan says, “At this point nauseous means feeling nauseated not causing nausea. I think nauseous can sometimes mean offensive, but for the most part I think it means that we feel terrible.”

Question #2:

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Weekly Political Roundup
5:12 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

A look at Michigan politics this week

The Lansing Capitol
Lester Graham Michigan Radio

It’s Thursday, the day we talk Michigan politics with Susan Demas, political analyst for MLIVE.com and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

Governor Snyder's "One Tough Nerd" commercials return signaling the start of a very long Election 2014 campaign season. And, we ask: Is the Tea Party losing steam? 

Listen to the full interview above. 

Politics & Government
4:49 pm
Thu September 19, 2013

Weekly Political Roundup: Drug testing welfare recipients, Republican conference

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

It’s Thursday. The day we talk Michigan politics with Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants and Susan Demas, columnist for MLIVE.com

This week, a bill that would require welfare recipients to do some kind of community service in order to get cash assistance or a welfare check passed in the Senate.  And another bill related to drug testing and welfare benefits cleared the state House Commerce Committee.

Then, the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference kicks off this weekend with nationally recognized guests including three potential presidential candidates set to speak there. They are Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana. 

Listen to the full interview above.

Newsmaker Interview
4:37 pm
Tue September 17, 2013

Napoleon explains his plan to reduce crime in Detroit

On today's "All Things Considered," Host Jennifer White talks with Wayne County Sheriff, Benny Napoleon. He is one of Detroit's mayoral candidates, and he recently released what he calls his "One Square Mile Initiative" focused on reducing crime in Detroit by 50%. 

"Until we are affirmed as a save city, [crime reduction] has to be the continuous priority of anyone in leadership in this community. Recognizing we cannot do it with the number of police officers we have. Certainly we can do a better job employing people with the resource that we have, but if you are really trying to make this a safe city you can't do it with the number of people we have in this agency right now," Napoleon said.

Listen to the full interview above. 

Newsmaker Interview
4:42 pm
Tue September 10, 2013

Duggan explains his plan to rebuild Detroit neighborhoods

Mike Duggan

The field for the next mayor of Detroit has been whittled down to two. Benny Napoleon, former Wayne County Sheriff and Mike Duggan, former CEO of Detroit Medical Center.

Duggan recently released his 10 point plan focused on rebuilding Detroit neighborhoods. 

One big issue facing Detroit is the amount of abandoned buildings, and how sparsely populated the city is now, which makes it difficult to provide services. Duggan joined us today to talk his ideas for addressing that problem. 

"If you’re in an area where you are down to a couple of houses per block, what we want to do is create incentives so that those houses that we cease in densely occupied blocks can be made available to people who would relocate from the block that only have one or two houses left and I think in a positive way we can convince people to move from the declining neighborhoods to the neighborhoods that are stable," he said.

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