Zoe Clark

Interim Program Director; Co-host, It's Just Politics

Zoe Clark is Michigan Radio's Interim Program Director. In that role, Clark oversees all programming on the state's largest public radio station - including the station's award-winning newsroom, commentary, and daily news-magazine Stateside

Clark also co-hosts, with Michigan Public Radio Network's Lansing Bureau Chief Rick Pluta,  It's Just Politics, a weekly look at Michigan politics airing Monday mornings on Morning Edition.

Clark previously produced Michigan Radio's Morning Edition, Jack Lessenberry's interviews and essays, and is the founder and executive producer of Stateside with Cynthia Canty. Clark also produces and directs statewide Michigan Calling programs.

Clark began her collegiate studies at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.  She holds degrees in Communication Studies and Political Science from the University of Michigan and lives in Ann Arbor, where she was born and raised.

Email: zoeclark@umich.edu

Twitter: @ZoeMelinaClark

Photo courtesy of www.governorelectricksnyder.com

Governor-elect Rick Snyder will be in Washington D.C. today. He'll meet with some of Michigan's congressional delegation and members of the Republican leadership. 

The Detroit News is also reporting that Snyder will announce Bill McBride as the head of the Michigan office in Washington D.C.  McBride is currently chief of staff to retiring Republican Congressman Vern Ehlers of Grand Rapids.

Snyder Continues to Build Administration

Governor-elect Rick Snyder continues to name new members to his administration. Yesterday, Snyder announced that current deputy director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture Keith Creagh will take over that department as director.  The department will, under the Snyder Administration, be known as the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. And, The Detroit News reports that Snyder is poised to name Bill McBride as the head of the Michigan office in Washington D.C.  McBride is currently chief of staff to retiring Republican Michigan Congressman Vern Ehlers of Grand Rapids.

Separating the DNRE

Governor-elect Snyder also announced yesterday that he will separate the Department of Natural Resources and Environment into two different departments: The Department of Environmental Quality and The Department of Natural Resources. Governor Granholm merged the two state departments in January in hopes of streamlining government and saving money. Previously, in the 1990’s, former Governor John Engler had split up the two departments.

DSO Cancels More Concerts

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra has canceled concerts at Orchestra Hall through December 11th as the symphony’s musicians continue to strike.  The musicians have been on strike since October 4th because they have not been able to agree on a new contract with DSO management.  The striking musicians will perform a series of holiday concerts at churches and schools in metro Detroit beginning on Friday.

New Auto Jobs

General Motors and Chrysler both announced that they’ll be hiring new workers in Michigan.  Yesterday, GM announced it will hire some 1,000 to work on developing batteries for hybrid, electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.  Most of the jobs will be based at a technical center in Warren, MI.  Meanwhile, Chrysler also announced yesterday it plans to add 1,000 jobs.  Most workers will be employed at the company’s headquarters in Auburn Hills, MI.

GM to hire 1,000 in MI

Nov 30, 2010

General Motors has just announced that it will hire 1,000 engineers to work on battery technology in Michigan. The jobs include helping to develop batteries for hybrid, electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Most of the jobs will be at a technical center in Warren.

The Detroit Free Press reports the jobs come as GM:

…prepares to deliver the first Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric cars next month… GM plans to build 10,000 Volts by the end of 2011 and at least 45,000 in 2012. Initially, the Volt will sell in California, New York City, Washington, D.C., and Austin, Texas. Next spring, those markets will expand to include Michigan, New Jersey, Connecticut and the rest of New York and Texas. Within a year and a half, GM plans to sell the Volt nationwide.

Congressman Mike Pence
Photo courtesy of www.mikepence.house.gov

Indiana Congressman and possible 2012 presidential candidate Mike Pence visited the state yesterday. The Republican was in Michigan to deliver a speech at the Detroit Economic Club. The Club is a traditional stop for politicians considering a bid for the presidency. 

Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton reports that Pence used the speech to call for major tax reforms and said Democratic policies to stimulate the economy aren't working.

As The Detroit Free Press reports:

Pence's is one of about a dozen names that have surfaced as possible presidential candidates in 2012. He is the chairman of the Republican Conference Committee, the third ranking position among the GOP in Congress.

In this morning's news...

Nov 30, 2010

Out-of-State Pick for Budget Director

Governor-elect Rick Snyder has named John Nixon, Utah’s top budget officer, as his administration’s budget director.  Nixon will take over the job from Robert Emerson.  Michigan faces a projected $1.7 billion shortfall in the budget year that begins next October.  Snyder takes the oath of office on January 1st, 2011.

“Lame-Ducks” Back Today

State lawmakers in both the House and Senate are back in Lansing today for what is likely to be the final week of the “lame duck” session.  As Rick Pluta reports, there are more issues for lawmakers to deal with than time to get them done.  The issues include, “selling off future tobacco settlement payments to create a fund for struggling schools, building a new Detroit-to-Windsor international bridge, requiring insurance companies to cover autism treatments, and enacting a statewide anti-bullying policy for schools.”

Pence Visits Detroit Economic Club

Republican Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana spoke yesterday at the Detroit Economic Club.  As Tracy Samilton reports, the club is a traditional spot for politicos testing a possible bid for the presidency.  Pence called for major tax reforms in the speech and said Democratic policies to stimulate the economy and create jobs aren't working.

Bush Back to Grand Rapids

It’s being reported by the Grand Rapids Press that former President George W. Bush will be at the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids on Thursday.  He’ll be promoting his new book, Decision Points.  The former president was last in Grand Rapids in June when he spoke at the Economic Club.

Photo courtesy of www.Utah.gov

Governor-elect Rick Snyder is going out of state for his choice of Michigan’s next budget director.

Snyder is naming John Nixon, Utah’s top budget officer, to become his administration’s budget director.

Nixon will take over the job from Robert Emerson.

In a release yesterday, Snyder said:

John is considered one of the best in the business and is widely respected inside and outside of state government. As I traveled the state during the campaign and met with the hardworking men and women of Michigan, I said it was time for the citizens to take back control of Michigan’s broken budget process and to deliver real value for money.  John will work with us to bring fiscal responsibility, stability, transparency and the citizens’ priorities to state government.

Michigan faces a projected $1.7 billion shortfall in the budget that begins next October.

Snyder takes the oath of office on January 1st, 2011.

Update - Tues. 11/30/10 8:22 AM:

It's been confirmed that the former President will, indeed, visit Grand Rapids on Thursday.  He'll visit the Gerald R. Ford Museum as part of his nation-wide tour to promote his new book, Decision Points.

______

The Grand Rapids Press is reporting that former President George W. Bush will be at the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids on Thursday.

According to Krisin Mooney, a museum public affairs specialist, the former president will be at the museum at 2PM.

Mooney said other information about the former president's visit will be released later this afternoon.

Bush was last in Grand Rapids in June to speak at the Economic Club of Grand Rapids.

Rep. Pete Hoekstra
Michigan Radio

Michigan Congressman Pete Hoekstra is condemning the latest Wikileaks disclosure of thousands of classified documents.

Republican Hoekstra, who represents Michigan’s 2nd District, says the leaks undermine U.S. credibility in the world.

The Associated Press reported:

Hoekstra said the disclosure of previously secret diplomatic cables, documents and e-mails secrets puts America's diplomats in "a very awkward position." He said some of the material in the roughly 250,000 released documents is "gossip," but added that there's also material on supersensitive negotiations between the United States and Pakistan on a deal aimed at controlling nuclear proliferation.

Hoekstra, who appeared this morning on CBS's "The Early Show" and ABC's "Good Morning America," is urging the Obama administration to classify Wikileaks as a terrorist organization.

3 Things: Emily Schaller

Nov 29, 2010

All this year, Michigan Radio has been asking people from across the state for their 3 ideas of what we can all do to improve things here in Michigan.  The series is called 3 Things and today we hear from Emily Schaller, founder of Rock CF Foundation, a group dedicated to increasing the quality of life for people with Cystic Fibrosis.

In this morning's news...

Nov 29, 2010

Thousands Stand to Lose Benefits

The extension of federal unemployment benefits expires on Wednesday. If Congress doesn't vote to extend the benefits, some tens of thousands of Michiganders will lose their benefits. Congressional Democrats are expected to push for a vote this week, Republicans oppose the extension unless the cost is covered by cutting other federal spending.

Lawmakers Return to Lansing

State lawmakers return to the Capitol this week as the 2009-2010 legislative session comes to an end. The AP reports, "Lawmakers will continue their so-called lame duck' session held before a new Legislature and incoming governor Rick Snyder take office in January." Both the House and Senate are scheduled to be in session.

Red Kettle Giving

The Salvation Army's red kettle campaign is underway. And, this year, you can donate via text message, Lindsey Smith reports. "We certainly want to make it as easy for people to give as possible," said Major Robert Thompson, Divisional Commander for Wisconsin and Northern Michigan. "Younger people tend to be more electronic than they are cash or check so we've set up this texting opportunity just to reach a younger population." The Salvation Army has also unveiled some kettles that can take credit cards.

Capitol Building in Lansing
Terry Johnson/Flickr

State lawmakers return to the Capitol in Lansing this week as the 2009-2010 legislative session comes to a close.

Both the state House and Senate are scheduled to be in session.

The Associated Press reports:

Lawmakers might finalize a plan to distribute more than $300 million in federal money to Michigan schools.  It's not clear if lawmakers will agree on a way to raise more money for the state's Pure Michigan tourism advertising program.

Glass floor inside the Michigan Capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Censure from Michigan's Supreme Court

This week, for the first time in state history, the Michigan Supreme Court publicly rebuked a former justice for violating court confidentiality. Former Justice Elizabeth Weaver was rebuked by the court for secretly taping deliberations and later making them public. Lessenberry says Weaver had been feuding for years with her fellow justices until she resigned this past summer after making a deal with Governor Granholm.

Jennifer White and Jeff Daniels
Eliot Johnson / Michigan Radio

Thanksgiving Day is tomorrow, and it's a time to reflect on what we're all thankful for this year.

Actor and Musician Jeff Daniels stopped by the Michigan Radio studios this week to talk about why he calls Michigan home, the importance of the arts in the state and what he is thankful for. His answer might surprise you.

Senator Debbie Stabenow
Photo courtesy of www.stabenow.senate.gov

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow is set to chair the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. Stabenow takes over the position from Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas.  Lincoln lost her Senate seat to Republican John Boozman on November 2nd.

In a statement released today, Stabenow, a Democrat, says:

I am ready to lead the Senate Agriculture Committee in the 112 th Congress. Agriculture is critical to Michigan’s economy, employing a quarter of our workforce. Not only does agriculture create jobs and feed our families across America, but it is also helping us develop new fuels and energy sources.

Stabenow has served as a Democratic Senator from Michigan since 2000.

As the Detroit News reports:

Stabenow's position will give the Great Lakes State an enormous amount of influence over the next farm bill, which is slated for 2012. The bill is the cornerstone of the federal government's agriculture, food and nutrition policy and states like Michigan with sizable farming sectors have significant interest in its outcome; work on the 2012 bill began in April.

General Motors (GM) stock returned to trading on Wall Street yesterday for the first time since the company collapsed, declared bankruptcy, and was rescued by an infusion of fifty billion taxpayer dollars.

While Michigan has been focusing on diversifying its economy to make up for the loss of jobs in the auto industry, GM's return to public trading suggests that the auto industry in Michigan will continue to be a major economic player in the region.

In this morning's news...

Nov 19, 2010

GM Stock Sale

General Motors' stock was back on the New York Stock Exchange yesterday, the first time since the company filed for bankruptcy last year. GM stocks closed at $34.19 per share, up from the IPO price of $33. As The Detroit Free Press reports, "ending 16 months of majority ownership by U.S. taxpayers GM becomes a public company once again with the government holding a 33 percent stake." President Obama said, "American taxpayers are now positioned to recover more than my administration invested in GM, and that's a good thing."

Unemployment Extension Fails

The U.S. House of Representatives failed to pass a bill yesterday that would have extended unemployment benefits. As The Detroit News reports, "an estimated 2 million jobless Americans are on track to lose benefits under the bill, which would extend payments for up to 99 weeks of unemployment until the end of February 2011. Some 180,000 people in Michigan would be affected." Yesterday, Governor Granholm sent a letter to House and Senate leaders urging them for action on the measure.

Liquor Bill Signed

Governor Granholm has signed a bill that allows for alcohol sales on Sunday mornings and Christmas. The bill also allows grocers and retailers to offer customers beer, wine and spirit tastings. The governor said it's time to update the state's old alcohol regulations.

Flint Murder Rate

Flint has recorded its 60th murder of the year, that's just one away from its record for murders in one year, Steve Carmody reports. The news comes as the city struggles to maintain staffing in its police department. Mayor Dayne Walling says too many of the city's residents have turned to drugs and violence.

In this morning's news...

Nov 18, 2010

Big Day for GM

General Motors' stock will be sold on The New York Stock Exchange for the first time since June 2009, when the company was seeking bankruptcy protection. GM common stock sold for $33 per shared and raised  $23 billion.

Statewide Layoffs

Kent County Commissioners are expected to adopt a budget for next year that would eliminate 56 full time positions. As Lindsey Smith reports, the cuts are part of an overall plan to keep county spending in line as revenue from property taxes decline. The Kent County sheriff's department will see most of the proposed cuts. Meanwhile, the city of Flint plans to send out layoff notices to some city employees next week. Flint Mayor Dayne Walling says the exact number of layoffs will depend on how many unions agree to wage and benefit concessions.

MI Unemployment Rate

Michigan's unemployment rate continues its slow, but steady, decline. The state's jobless rate dropped to 12.8% in October. That is the first time since March 2009 that the rate has been below 13%, according to the Associated Press. Michigan's unemployment rate for October of last year was 14.4%. The national unemployment rate for October was 9.6%.

Jobless
Photo by Khalilshah/Flick

Michigan's jobless rate continued its slow, but steady, decline in October.  The state's unemployment rate in October was 12.8%.  It's the first time the jobless rate was been under 13% since March 2009, according to the Associated Press. The state's jobless rate in October of 2009 was 14.4%.

The national unemployment rate for October was 9.6%.

ACLU
Slightly North/Flickr

The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the state of Michigan for its law that allows people convicted as minors to be imprisoned for life with no chance of parole.

The ACLU says the law violates the U.S. Constitution because it is "cruel and unusual punishment."

In a press release, the ACLU says the lawsuit is:

...on behalf of nine Michigan citizens who were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for crimes committed when they were minors. The lawsuit charges that a Michigan sentencing scheme that denies the now-adult plaintiffs an opportunity for parole and a fair hearing to demonstrate their growth, maturity and rehabilitation constitutes cruel and unusual punishment and violates their constitutional rights.

According to the release:

The U.S. is the only country in the world that sentences youth to life without parole, and Michigan incarcerates the second highest number of people serving life sentences without parole for crimes committed when they were 17 years old or younger. Currently, there are 350 individuals serving such mandatory life sentences in Michigan. This includes more than 100 individuals who were sentenced to life without parole who were present or committed a felony when a homicide was committed by someone else.

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero
Photo courtesy of www.votevirg.com

The Lansing State Journal takes a look today at what Lansing Mayor Virg Bernro has been up to since losing the Michigan gubernational election earlier this month to Republican Rick Snyder.

In an article titled, "After failed bid for governor, it's business as usual for Lansing Mayor Virg Bernro," the LSJ reports:

Bernero wants to turn his attention to economic development... and preparations for 600 new jobs at General Motors Co.'s Lansing Grand River plant.  There's also "a few other things we haven't even yet announced economic-wise," Bernero said.  Lansing's cash-strapped budget also should keep him occupied, he said.  "I am the mayor," Bernero said. "I'm excited about doing the job and I'm excited about where we are...You'll have to stay tuned."

Last year, Bernero won a 2nd four-year term as Lansing mayor.

When asked whether he would run for another political job, Bernero told the LSJ, it was, "hard to say," and that there's, "plenty of time to think about it."

In this morning's news...

Nov 17, 2010

Benefit Extension

Without a new extension of jobless benefits, 45,000 long-term unemployed people in Michigan will lose their unemployment benefits on December 1st, Rick Pluta reports. State unemployment officials hope Congress will act in the next two weeks to extend the benefits. Michigan's unemployment rate is 13%, the second-highest in the country.

Volt Already Winning Awards

General Motor's Volt has been named the 2011 Car of the Year by Motor Trend Magazine. The Volt will hit select showrooms in California, Texas, New York and Washington, D.C. next month. The Volt can go up to 40 miles on battery power and then a gasoline generator works to power the electric motor. The editor in chief of Motor Trend Magazine says on its website that the Volt has, "some of the most advanced engineering ever seen on an American production car."

Hamtramck To Seek Bankruptcy

The Detroit News reports, "the city of Hamtramck, awash in debt, has asked the state for permission to take the unprecedented step of filing for bankruptcy." Hamtramck's city manager says the city is facing a $3 million debt and could run out of money in January. The Detroit Free Press says, "a city cannot declare bankruptcy, but a state-appointed emergency financial manager can." A state Treasury Department spokesman told the Detroit News that no Michigan municipality has ever declared bankruptcy before.

Photo courtesy of www.governorelectricksnyder.com

Governor-elect Rick Snyder will attend the National Governor Association's school for new governors this week, according to Crain's Detroit Business.  Crain's also says the governor-elect will attend a meeting of the Republican Governors Association

According to the Republican Governors Association's website, the RGA, "was a key investor in Rick Snyder's victory spending a total of $8 million."

Governor-elect Snyder will take the oath of office on January 1st, 2011.

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

When Governor-elect Rick Snyder assumes the role of governor in January it will mark the end of Jennifer Granholm’s final term as Governor of Michigan.  All Things Considered Host Jenn White sat down with Michigan Radio Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry to discuss the roles of former governors in Michigan history.

GM boosts stock price

Nov 16, 2010

General Motors says it’s raising the price range for its initial public stock offering.

The stock will sell for $32 to $33 per share.

That price range is about 14% higher than was previously expected.

GM didn’t give a reason for the increase but people who have been briefed on the sale say it’s because of high demand from investors.

The IPO is expected on Thursday.  The Detroit Free Press reports, "the U.S. Treasury is selling 365 million shares, which will reduce its stake in GM from 60.8% to about 40%."

In this morning's news...

Nov 16, 2010

Snyder Picks Chief of Staff

Governor-elect Rick Snyder announced Dennis Muchmore as his Chief of Staff in Lansing yesterday. Rick Pluta reports Muchmore, "owned a multi-client lobbying firm before retiring eight years ago. He is also an avid outdoorsman who served briefly as the interim president of the Michigan United Conservation Clubs." Snyder said he chose Muchmore because of his knowledge of how Lansing politics work.
Job Vacancies in Lansing

Because of early retirement incentive packages, some 4,800 state employees will leave their jobs by next month. That means it's likely that Governor-elect Rick Snyder will have to figure out how fill those vacancies come January when he is sworn in. Reporter Jennifer Guerra spoke with Gary Olson with the Michigan Senate Fiscal Agency. Olsen, "points out that the number of state employees has declined 13% over the past decades, so if Snyder replaces only two-thirds of the job vacancies some services will suffer." Olson says the state is projected to save around $81 million because of the early retirements.
Going Hungry in Michigan

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's annual Food Insecurity' study finds about 13.4% of people in Michigan have trouble getting enough food and 5% go hungry. Both of those numbers have increased since the mid 1990's. Nationwide, about 14.7% of households were "food insecure."

Photo courtesy of www.governorelectricksnyder.com

Governor-elect Rick Snyder announced Dennis Muchmore as his Chief of Staff in Lansing yesterday.  Rick Pluta reports Muchmore, “owned a multi-client lobbying firm before retiring eight years ago. He is also an avid outdoorsman who served briefly as the interim president of the Michigan United Conservation Clubs.” 

Snyder said he chose Muchmore because of his knowledge of how Lansing politics work.  The Detroit News reports Muchmore:

...is the most unorthodox choice.  He hasn't worked directly for an elected official since the 1970s, when he served as an aide to Macomb County Democratic state Sen. John Bowman.
 

Muchmore is 63.

It’s Freshmen Orientation today. Congressional freshmen, that is. As Bloomberg News reports:

The 2011 U.S. House freshman class is in Washington for orientation as Congress today opens a lame-duck session to decide whether to extend billions of dollars in Bush-era income-tax cuts.

Michigan has five new U.S. Representatives: Republicans Dan Benishek (1st District), Bill Huizenga (2nd District), Justin Amash (3rd District), Tim Walberg (7th District), and Democrat Hansen Clarke (13th District). 

This will actually be Walberg’s 2nd orientation as he was first elected to represent the 7th District in 2006.  He then lost the seat in 2008 to Democrat Mark Schauer but won it back on November 2nd.

The Detroit News reports:

During the 112th Congress orientation, newly elected members learn the ropes in Washington, from legal issues and standards of conduct to understanding pay and benefits and setting up their offices. Newcomers will pose for a class photo on the Capitol lawn, attend receptions and pick their offices.

Little Sable Point Lighthouse
David Plotzki/Creative Commons

State tourism officials are hoping to get the Pure Michigan tourism campaign back on the air-waves.

The campaign was stopped earlier this year when the state ran out of money to pay for the ads.

As Rick Pluta reports, Governor Granholm has asked the legislature to tap into a projected budget windfall as a short-term solution to pay for the ads.

Governor Granholm has said the 'Pure Michigan' campaign generates $2.23 in tourism-related activity for every dollar spent on the ads.

A poll of likely Michigan voters released earlier this month showed strong support for the Pure Michigan ad campaign.

In this morning's news...

Nov 15, 2010
Infrogmation/Creative Commons

Talks Continue on 'Pure Michigan'

State tourism officials are hoping to get the Pure Michigan tourism campaign back on the air-waves. The campaign was stopped earlier this year when the state ran out of money to pay for the ads. As Rick Pluta reports, Governor Granholm has asked the legislature to tap into a projected budget windfall as a short-term solution to pay for the ads. A study commissioned by Travel Michigan found the Pure Michigan' campaign generated $2.30 in tourism-related activity for every dollar spent on the campaigns.

The Hunt is On

Firearms deer hunting season is underway in the state. It began today and runs through November 30th. As of late last week, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources & Environment said more than one million deer licenses had been sold in Michigan. The state sold more than 1.5 million hunting licenses for firearm and bow seasons last year.

Hyundai Reaches Milestone in U.S.

Hyundai, the Korean automaker, expects to break the 500,000 vehicle sales mark for the first time in the U.S. this week, Tracy Samilton reports. John Krafcik, CEO of Hyundai's American division, says the recession helped the company because customers focused less on brand and status and more on quality and value. Hyundai has facilities in California, a manufacturing plant in Alabama, and a Technical Center in Ypsilanti.

Saul Anuzis
Photo courtesy of www.thatssaulfolks.com

Saul Anuzis says he will run to become the Chairman of the Republican National Committee. Anuzis is currently a member of the committee and the former Chairman of the Michigan Republican Party.

Anuzis was in the race to become Chairman last year but ended up loosing to current RNC Chairman and former Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele.

In a letter to the RNC membership, Anuzis said:

This is an exciting time to be a Republican and, as leaders, we have an awesome task ahead of us. The American people have given us a second chance' and that opportunity brings with it huge responsibility and challenge. Now we turn our attention to 2012. America must elect a new President. It is that hope, that necessity, that challenge, that draws me to announce my candidacy for the Chairmanship of the Republican National Committee.

Steele has not said yet whether he will seek another term.

Here's a roundup of what other media outlets are reporting about whether or not Steele will decide to run and, if he does, whether he'll get elected:

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