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.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan Radio’s Jack Lessenberry describes the history of Michigan’s primary as both fascinating and bizarre.

According to Lessenberry, Michigan held its first presidential primary in the early part of the 20th century. At that time people voted for Henry Ford in two separate primaries. To be exact, those primaries took place in 1916 and then in 1924, according to the Michigan Department of State Bureau of Elections.

Photo courtesy of Michigan GOP.

Michigan is just a week away from its Presidential Primary. The GOP candidates are campaigning across the state in preparation for the February 28 event.

Michigan Radio’s Jennifer White spoke with the chair of the Michigan Republican Party, Robert Schostak.

Mitt Romney is from Michigan, so a lot people believe he will win in his home state, but  Rick Santorum was leading in the polls over Romney. Schostak is  not surprised Santorum is doing well in the state.

User: dailyfortnight / flickr

Governor Rick Snyder gave his endorsement to Mitt Romney today.  The question is whether or not that endorsement will help Romney.

Michigan Radio’s Jennifer White spoke 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.

Here’s what Susan Demas had to say about the Snyder endorsement:

User: Jeremy Peters / flickr

Michigan’s Presidential Primary is only two weeks away.

On February 28, Republicans and Democrats can go out and vote for their nominee for President. That’s because Michigan is what you’d call an “open state.” Once you get to the polls all you have to do is request either a Republican or Democrat ballot.

Eleven Republican presidential candidates are on the ballot so far. President Barack Obama is the only Democrat.

Photo courtesy of Dr. Madgett.

Listen to the interview.

The 2012 Kresge Eminent Artist Award goes to Naomi Long Madgett.

She’s an award winning poet, editor, and educator. She’s often called the godmother of African-American poetry.

Dr. Madgett says the award came as a complete surprise because she didn’t even know she was being considered for the award.

“So it means a great deal to me that I can be alive to realize that my life’s work has had some positive effect on other people’s lives,” she tell Michigan Radio’s Jennifer White.

Jeffs4653 / Flickr

Every Monday, we're checking in with people who are  trying to do what they think is needed to improve life for people in Michigan. This morning we speak with Sean Tracy. He’s a truck driver and World War II buff, and he’s working to show gratitude to the nation’s veterans—especially World War II vets. He builds models of the planes or ships the veterans served on while they were on active duty and gives them as gifts to the vets he finds.

*This story was informed by the Public Insight Network. Add your story here.

Photo courtesy of Seth Bernard and May Erlewine.

Listen to the interview.

Michigan natives Seth Bernard and May Erlewine have a new album inspired by their journey across Ethiopia.

Last year they were invited to join the project “Run Across Ethiopia," of the Michigan-based non-profit On the Ground. A group of eight eventually ran 240 miles across southern Ethiopia and raised over $200,000 to build schools in the coffee growing region of that country.

The album New Flower is based on that experience.

Michigan Radio's Jennifer White interviewed Seth & May. You can see them perform in Michigan Radio's Studio East.

Produced by Mercedes Mejia and Cade Sperlich. Our audio engineer is Bob Skon.

Governor Rick Snyder's website

Governor Rick Snyder spoke to Michigan Radio’s Jennifer White about his budget proposal for fiscal year 2013.

In the proposal are some funding increases for education, public safety and infrastructure.

Theresa Flores is a social worker, and director of education and training for Gracehaven House, in Ohio. It's a long term faith based care and rehabilitation home for young girls who have been victimized by human trafficking.

Flores grew up in an upper-middle class catholic home. Many years ago she found herself in the same situation as some of the young women she now helps.

Flores says she moved around a lot. Her father had a good job, and her parents were very strict. They landed in Birmingham, Michigan.

user: isabel bolinn / flickr

We continue our series on human trafficking.

Identifying victims of this crime can be difficult. But as Amy Allen tells us, there are signs we can watch out for.

Allen is a victim and witness specialist from Homeland Security Investigations. She is stationed in Michigan and travels locally and abroad to help victims of human trafficking.

Congressman's website

Republican Congressman Mike Rogers represents Michigan’s 8th district. He also serves as the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

Recently, he held the annual Open Hearing on Worldwide Threats Facing the U.S. Congressman Rogers spoke to Michigan Radio's Jennifer White.

UM Law School's Human Trafficking Clinic.

Human trafficking is a growing crime in Michigan, and the U.S.

At its most basic level, even identifying victims of this crime can be difficult.

In the first of our three part series we’ll look at the challenge of providing assistance to victims.

Michigan Radio’s Jennifer White spoke with Elizabeth Campbell, Staff Attorney at the University of Michigan Law School’s Human Trafficking Clinic.

Campbell says there are mostly two categories of human trafficking.

ThomasWanhoff / Flickr

Each Monday, as part of our "Seeking Change" series, we’re checking in with someone who’s trying to improve life for people in Michigan. I spoke this morning with Andy Sopher about a particularly difficult subject: sex trafficking of kids. Sopher is with Wedgewood Christian Services in Grand Rapids and is behind a new project aimed at curbing trafficking of youngsters.

Peter Ito / flickr

Governor Rick Snyder is looking for more money to support transportation costs in Michigan. That includes more than $1 billion to fix roads and bridges.

We talk to 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.

 

Current TV

Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm starts a new role as television host tonight. Her program, The War Room with Jennifer Granholm premieres tonight at 9/8c on Current TV.

Granholm says because she was an elected official, "I can present some inside information I think that adds value to those who care about politics and policy in 2012.”

ehealthinsurance.com

Under the Federal Affordable Care Act, states are required to create a health care exchange. An online place where people can comparison shop for health insurance. It looks much like a Travelocity or Orbitz website, but for health insurance.

Many Republicans in the Michigan legislature want to hold off on creating this exchange until the Supreme Court rules whether the act is constitutional.

gophouse.org

CORRECTION - An earlier version of this story stated that Right To Work legislation had already been introduced in the Michigan House. It has not. Representative Shirkey plans to introduce the legislation soon.

 

Right-to-work laws would prohibit workers from being required to join a union or pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment.

Republican Rep. Mike Shirkey plans to introduce right-to-work legislation in the House.

www.caaahholland.org

According to 2010 U.S. Census data, Holland, Michigan’s black population experienced a 20 percent growth in the last decade.

This week a new Center for African American Art and History opened in Holland, Michigan. 

Ruth Coleman is the center's director. She always wanted to see her African American culture representing in her community. 

Coleman hopes people in the Holland area come to the center to learn more about black culture.

Michigan Municipal League

Gov. Rick Snyder gave his second state of the address this week.

To take a closer look at how Gov. Snyder and the legislature might move forward this election year is 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.

 

Robert Turney

For our series Before Technology, we asked Michigan writers to share their thoughts on life before smart phones, the internet and social media.

Keith Taylor is a Michigan poet and writer. He describes the benefits of technology when we’re far away from home.

Mercedes Mejia/Michigan Radio

The North American International Auto Show opens to the public tomorrow.

The show has been a time for automakers to roll out new models and concept cars, letting consumers know what to expect in the future. The Detroit Three are heading into the year’s auto show with positive sales figures.

Joining us to take a historical look at the auto show and the Detroit Three is Michigan Radio’s Jack Lessenberry.

You can read Michigan Radio reports and see photos and video here.

 

 

This week the The North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) opened to the press and industry professionals at Cobo Center in Detroit.

Kicking off the event was the North American Car and Truck of the Year Awards.

The 2012 Hyundai Elantra took 2012 North American Car of the Year.

And, the 2012 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque was named the 2012 North American Truck of the Year award.

Tracy Samilton reports:

The mood at the North American International Auto Show is upbeat. Sure, Europe’s debt crisis and the battered Euro have auto executives concerned, but so far that crisis isn’t stopping the U.S. economy’s improvement, albeit at a very measured (slow) pace.

You can read all Michigan Radio reports and see more photos and videos here.

On Saturday morning the show opens to the public.

Tickets are $12 each. Seniors and children are $6 each.

The show runs January 14-22.

Michigan Municipal League

The Michigan Legislature began the new session this week, and with Gov. Rick Snyder scheduled to deliver his second State of the State address, the agenda for state government is underway.

Michigan Radio's Jennifer White asks, what kind of relationship might we see between the Governor and the legislature this year?

She spoke 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.

 

Mercedes Mejia/Michigan Radio

The Detroit Auto Show is in press preview this week.

Michigan Radio’s auto beat reporter Tracy Samilton spoke with Jennifer White about her experience there.

 

On Monday, Chrysler unveiled its 2013 Dodge Dart at the Detroit Auto Show.

Sarah Cwiek reports:

Reid Bigland, President of the Dodge brand says the Dart represents a true blend of Fiat and Chrysler’s traditional strengths. “Quite simply, it is groundbreaking. It has a world-class architecture, the DNA of an Alpha-Romeo, with the unmistakable presence of a Dodge,” said Bigland. He says the Dart will make its debut in showrooms this spring with a price tag of just under $16,000.

Mercedes Mejia/Michigan Radio

Auto companies use words such as "affordability", "reliability", "high performance", "style" and "fuel economy" to sell you a car.  

Ford Motor Company thinks they’ve got it all. Of course, they do have some competition.

Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton reports:

Ford Motor Company is unveiling its new Fusion, hoping to topple the traditional midsize sedan leaders, the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. The Fusion will also come in hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions, with the plug-in getting the equivalent of 100 miles per gallon. 

Here's the splashy unveiling of the 2013 Ford Fusion at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Mercedes Mejia/Michigan Radio

According to U.S. Census data, there are 80 million American consumers approaching 30.

And it's no surprise car companies want their business.

“Today's younger generation will be a driving force in the automotive market in the years ahead,” said Mark Reuss, President of GM North America.

Chevrolet launched its new 2013 Sonic RS at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. It comes with a 138-horsepower engine, and sportier look than the non-RS models.

Reuss said rather than advertising on television, the car company has chosen to go online to promote the new 2013 Sonic, which will be available at the end of this year.

Chevrolet also revealed two brand new concept cars with traits they say young buyers want - style and performance.

The Code 130-R is a four-seat coupe. The Tru 140s is based off the same platform as the Chevrolet Cruze and the Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle with extended mileage.

Check out the new cars in this video:

Camp Take Notice is a tent community of homeless people living in Ann Arbor.

Freezing temperatures will force many of its residents to find new places to live. But more than a dozen will stay through the winter.

Michigan Radio’s Mercedes Mejia and Meg Cramer visited the camp just before the first snow fall.

You can check out what the camp looks like here:

Michigan Municipal League

This year, ushered in a new Governor, Republican Rick Snyder, and Republican majorities in both the House and Senate.

Joining us to take a look back at the year in state politics are 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.

House Democrats / Michigan.gov

Governor Rick Snyder signed major changes to employer paid benefits into law yesterday.

The changes will limit how much an injured worker can be compensated based on how much an insurance company thinks that worker could make at another job, among other things.

The new law will also make it more difficult for a person to collect jobless benefits.

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