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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Newsmaker Interviews
10:19 am
Wed August 1, 2012

Highland Park Schools EM explains move to charter schools

Joyce Parker
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.”

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That's What They Say
8:03 am
Sun July 29, 2012

Grammar advice from a "female professor"

This week on That’s What They Say, we explore gender stereotypes in job titles for women and men. Michigan Radio's Rina Miller talks with Anne Curzan, a professor of English at the University of Michigan who specializes in linguistics.

Curzan says the stereotypes come from our understanding of who does certain jobs.

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Week in Review
8:00 am
Sat July 28, 2012

Michigan politics: The week in review

Michigan State Capitol building.
CedarBendDrive/flickr

In this Saturday's Week in Review, discussions over font size take up time in the Michigan Supreme Court, the Senate tackles legislation that would more closely regulate abortion providers, and Gov. Snyder plans to go back to China. Michigan Radio's Rina Miller speaks with Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry.

Weekly Political Roundup
5:19 pm
Thu July 26, 2012

Experts discuss font size during Michigan Supreme Court hearing

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.

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Newsmaker Interviews
4:58 pm
Tue July 24, 2012

Michigan House Democrats call for action on health care exchange

Kate Segal is State Representative for the 62nd House District.
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.

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Newsmaker Interviews
10:35 am
Wed July 11, 2012

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette urges delay in creating health care exchanges

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.

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That's What They Say
9:13 am
Sun July 8, 2012

'Must' is getting musty; so is 'shall'

This week on That’s What They Say, we find out why so many of us are not using the words must and shall anymore.

“Linguists have been tracking these modals, these helping verbs or auxiliary verbs, and must has been on the decline for most of the 20th century into the 21st. And it’s not alone. Other modals like might and shall are also in decline,” said Anne Curzan, a professor of English specializing in linguistics at the University of Michigan.

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Arts & Culture
12:46 pm
Fri July 6, 2012

One Minute Michigan Story: Nothing Beats the Michigan Sky

User: seriousfun MorgueFile.com

Written by Shadi Ahmadmehrabi

Nothing beats the Michigan sky. On every camping trip and night spent around a campfire, I step out of the commotion of whatever's going on to lie down and stare at the stars. As my spine sets against the cold ground, every vertebra curving around the Mitten's surface, I gaze at the countless twinkling spots in the clear dark navy  Michigan sky. The blue from Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior spills onto the canvas above and creates the perfect setting for a blanket of stars. On a clear night, there's no need to track constellations and point out whatever sized Dipper. The clear Michigan sky is second to none. 

This story was submitted to Michigan Radio's One Minute Michigan Story Writing Contest. Erik Wright-Olsen read the story.

Politics & Government
4:42 pm
Thu July 5, 2012

Gov. Snyder and the election bills

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?

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Politics & Government
10:15 am
Wed July 4, 2012

Disputes continue over Detroit's consent agreement, but there is good news

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?

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That's What They Say
8:59 am
Sun July 1, 2012

"Snuck" and "sneaked" are all right with me

This week on That’s What They Say, we explore why so many of us use snuck instead of sneaked.

“What’s happening here is that speakers are creating an irregular verb. Sneak used to be regular, made the past tense with –ed and suddenly we’ve decided to make it irregular,” said Anne Curzan, a professor of English specializing in linguistics at the University of Michigan.

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Arts & Culture
9:32 am
Fri June 29, 2012

One Minute Michigan Story: The Mighty Mac

cityNnature flickr

Written by Jack Nelson

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Politics & Government
5:21 pm
Thu June 28, 2012

Analyst says economy may trump health care in November

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.

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Arts & Culture
11:23 am
Wed June 27, 2012

One Minute Michigan Story: One Dollar Here

baseball-fever.com

Written by Katie Caralis

It's been more than 13 years, but I can still hear the voice of the man who spent my childhood selling peanuts outside Tiger Stadium. “Threee dollas innsiiide, ooone dolla heeere!” My dad always bought the one-dollar peanuts knowing half the shells would be empty, just like the half-empty seats, the Tigers being a losing team for most of the '90s, and the half-empty city, Detroit on the decline. Beaming, Dad would take my excited hand and lead me across the long bridge, over the broken glass and potholes, passed the burned-out buildings, up the winding blue ramp and inside the park we knew was magic, inside the city we knew was beautiful.

Katie Caralis is one of the winners of Michigan Radio's One Minute Michigan Story Writing Contest. Allison Downey read the story.

Politics & Government
11:49 am
Tue June 26, 2012

MDOT video highlights Camp Take Notice story

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

State agencies are helping several homeless folks find a place to live, or temporary shelter, following the closing of a tent city in Ann Arbor.

The Michigan Department of Transportation, or MDOT, released a video on Monday that explains the reason behind the camp closure.

“This is just not something the department can allow for a lot of different reasons,” said Mark Sweeney with MDOT. “Safety - because of the proximity to the freeway, sanitation - because there is no running water…so quite simply, it’s a liability for the state,” he said.

The video also highlights the problem of homeless. State agencies were called on to help relocate some residents. Camp Take Notice organizers said the camp served a purpose and helped people get back on their feet.

Here's MDOT's take on Camp Take Notice:

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Arts & Culture
11:25 am
Mon June 25, 2012

One Minute Michigan Story: Looking for an Oasis

Lake Michigan's Sleeping Bear Dunes.
Rebecca Williams Michigan Radio

Written by Timothy Kooy

Throw out the nostalgic native story about a mother protecting her cubs and Sleeping Bear Dunes is a fiery heat trap.  My family and I set off on a leisurely hike across the picturesque, gently rolling dunes.  The sun blared down on the sand dune inferno, and what had begun as leisure quickly morphed into hellish wandering.  We had our map and we had our destination, but the scorching sun never ceased.  Like a family of desert nomads we wandered up and down the zillion hills.  Finally, at the bottom of THIS dune we saw the perfect oasis, the cool blue gaze of Lake Michigan inviting us to quench our sweltering, sweat-dripping bodies.

Timothy Kooy was one of the winners of Michigan Radio's One Minute Michigan Story Writing Contest. Keith Taylor read the story.

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That's What They Say
9:02 am
Sun June 24, 2012

Ever wonder what LOL means?

Laugh out loud, or lots of love?

LOL might not actually mean what you think it does. Anne Curzan is a professor of English at the University of Michigan. She told Michigan Radio’s Rina Miller that students tell her they use LOL as a listening noise.

"A listening noise is what we do in face to face conversation when we show people we're paying attention, and we make little noises like, 'uh huh, uh huh, yeah,'" Curzan said.

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Politics & Government
8:41 am
Fri June 22, 2012

State officials close tent city in Ann Arbor

Mercedes Mejia /Michigan Radio

About 70 homeless people stayed at the tent city known as Camp Take Notice. But they were told to pack up and move out.

“You know, right now, this whole situation is very surreal. It feels like we are just going through the motions...I’m really going to miss it, you know, I’m just gonna miss the people," said Mary Contrucci.

Scott Ellinger and his girlfriend lived at the camp for a few months. He said, "It was a tight-knit community here, we were like family. Everybody looked out for each other."

"We really haven’t had any major problems out here. Except for a few minor incidences. We had one fire, which was accidental," said Ellinger.

It’s accidents like the fire that broke out a few months ago that state officials want to avoid. Sally Harrison is director of Rental Assistance and Homeless Solutions for the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.

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Politics
6:21 am
Fri June 22, 2012

One week later, debate over the use of the word "vagina" on the state House floor continues

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.

That's What They Say
9:00 am
Sun June 17, 2012

Which sounds better, funner or funnest?

Remember the iPod commercial that ends with the line, “The funnest iPod ever”? Well, that little sentence drove people crazy because, according to them, it wasn’t grammatically correct. Would they have written it,  “The most fun iPod ever,” they say it would have been correct.

Anne Curzan, professor of English specializing in linguistics at the University of Michigan, has graciously agreed to join us each Sunday to talk about how our language is changing.  

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