WUOMFM

Zoe Clark

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

Zoe Clark is Michigan Radio's 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

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 sign
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:

In this morning's news...

Nov 12, 2010
Infrogmation/Creative Commons

Nader: Postpone GM Stock Sales
Ralph Nader has sent a letter to President Obama asking him to postpone the government's sale of General Motors stock. The Detroit News reports, "the government plans next Thursday to sell about a third of the 61 percent majority stake in GM that it swapped for $40 billion of its $49.5 billion bailout." Nadar and two other consumer advocates say by postponing the initial public stock offering the government would increase the taxpayer's investment in GM. There's been no response from the Obama administration or General Motors to the letter.

Judge To Hear Arguments in Medical Marijuana Case
A federal judge in Grand Rapids will hear arguments today in a case that challenges the firing of a medical marijuana patient. The patient, Joseph Cassias, was fired from a Walmart in Battle Creek after he tested positive for marijuana. Cassias was registered in Michigan to use the drug for pain relief. Attorneys for Walmart want the case dismissed.

Snyder Inaugural Events Take Shape
The Detroit News is reporting that Governor-elect Rick Snyder's transition team will announce his inaugural planning committee today. It's expected that Michigan Grocers Association President and CEO Linda Gobler and Patricia Mooradian, president of The Henry Ford, will co-chair the committee. The theme of the inauguration: The Power of Michigan.

Photo courtesy of www.governorelectricksnyder.com

It's being reported this morning that Governor-elect Rick Snyder's transition team will announce co-chairs of Snyder's inaugural planning committee today.

The Detroit News reports:

Michigan Grocers Association President and CEO Linda Gobler and Patricia Mooradian, president of The Henry Ford, will co-chair the inauguration planning committee... Snyder's inauguration will include typical features such as the swearing-in and an inaugural ball, as well as other features, spokesman Bill Nowling told The News.

 The theme of the inauguration: The Power of MI.  Snyder will be sworn in as Michigan's 48th Governor on January 1st.

Many hunters prefer to take a buck.
(Photo by Scott Bauer - USDA)

Last year in Michigan, there were more than 60,000 car accidents caused by deer. Farmers say they can lose a lot of money when deer eat their crops. And there are deer munching on backyard gardens and even running down sidewalks.

In this morning's news...

Nov 11, 2010
Infrogmation/Creative Commons

Liquor Bill Passed in Lansing
Lawmakers in the state House and Senate passed a bill yesterday that would allow for liquor sales in Michigan on Sunday mornings and on Christmas Day. A previous bill that would have allowed for the sales was vetoed by Governor Granholm last month. Now, it appears lawmakers have reworked the bill for the governor's approval.

GM Profits in 3rd Quarter
General Motors made a $2 billion profit in the 3rd quarter of this year. As Tracy Samilton reports, it's a healthy result for a company that's planning an initial public stock offering next week. In a conference call, GM CEO Dan Akerson sas the company needs to keep streamlining operations to keep costs down, fix its European division, and increase marketing efforts for GM's remaining core brands.

Army Corps to Study Asian Carp
The Army Corps of Engineers is working on a study that will try and figure out the best way to keep Asian Carp and other invasive species out of the Great Lakes. It could, however, take the Army Corps five years to make a recommendation. There's concern that the voracious Asian Carp could invade the Great Lakes and dramatically change the make-up of species currently living in the waters.

Martini
Ken 30684/Creative Commons

UPDATE 1:38 PM: The Associated Press is reporting that the state Senate passed the bill 25-13.  The bill now goes to the House.

I just got a heads-up from our Lansing-based reporter Laura Weber.  She says a deal has been reached between the state House and Senate that would allow for liquor sales in Michigan on Sunday mornings and Christmas Day. 

A previous bill that would have allowed for the sales was vetoed by Governor Granholm last month.  Now, it appears lawmakers have reworked the bill for the governor's approval.

The Senate is expected to vote on the measure this afternoon.

(c) GM Logo/Photo Courtesy of General Motors

General Motors announced this morning that it made $2 billion in the third quarter.  The Associated Press reports:

The profit was fueled by GM's international operations and strong revenue from newly introduced car and crossover models in North America.

The automaker's actual revenue rose 36% to a little more than $34 billion.  This was the third-straight quarter in which GM was profitable.

Terry Johnson/FLICKR

Lawmakers at the state Capitol continued to choose legislative leaders yesterday. In the Senate: Republican state Senator Randy Richardville of Monroe was elected as the next Senate Majority Leader.

In this morning's news...

Nov 10, 2010
Infrogmation/Creative Commons

New Leaders in Lansing

Terry Johnson/Creative Commons

Kathy Barks Hoffman, of the Associated Press, has a great piece in the South Bend Tribune that takes a look at what went wrong for Democrats in the state before Election Day.  She writes:

Michigan Democrats started 2010 with their main candidate for governor withdrawing from the race, donors feeling the pinch of the poor economy and the drag of Gov. Jennifer Granholm's unpopularity hanging around their necks.

On November 2nd, Republicans won the Governor's office and the races for Attorney General and Secretary of State.  The GOP also widened their majority in the state Senate and won control of the state House of Representatives from the Democrats.

Hoffman notes that Democratic voters did not turn out to the polls like they did in the 2006 gubernatorial election.  She sites data from political strategist Ed Sarpolus that shows 300,000 fewer Democrats voted compared to four years ago.

Hoffman cites other reasons for the Democrat's loses:

  • Independent voters swung toward the GOP
  • Democrats didn't know very much about their candidates
  • Democratic candidate for governor Virg Bernro couldn't match Republican candidate (and now governor-elect) Rick Snyder's fundraising

Photo Courtesy of ZUU Mumu Entertainment

Amind a continuing strike by its musicians, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra has canceled concerts through November 28th.  The Associated Press reports:

Photo by Infrogmation/Creative Commons

Andrew Shirvell Fired

Pages