Zoe Clark

Reporter/Producer

Zoe Clark is a producer as well as the co-host of the Friday afternoon segment It's Just Politics on Michigan Radio. She produces Morning Edition, Jack Lessenberry’s daily essays, and Michigan Radio’s local interviews, including those by All Things Considered host Jennifer White and Morning Edition host Christina Shockley. She is also a substitute on-air host. She has been at Michigan Radio since 2006.

Zoe 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: @ZoeMelina

Pages

Economy
12:13 pm
Fri December 3, 2010

An increase in strikes in the down economy?

Striking workers' sign
Steve Rhodes/Flickr

Michigan Radio has been covering stories from across the state regarding labor and contract disputes. From the strike of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra to the dispute between the City of Flint and its Firefighters Union, it seems that workers and management are having a difficult time finding common ground these days.

So, we wondered, do strikes increase during a down economy?  We assumed they did.  Well, as they say, that's we get for assuming.  As it turns out, the struggling economy may have actually reduced the number of labor disputes resulting in strikes. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were fewer work stoppages affecting 1,000 or more workers in 2009 than in any other year since 1947, when the collection of this data began.

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Opinion
11:49 am
Fri December 3, 2010

Jack Lessenberry: Culture of Debt

By Jack Lessenberry

Jim McTevia never had a credit card growing up. That’s largely because there weren’t any in the small town of Marine City, Michigan where he was born. Today, he thinks that just might have saved him. He's done all right for himself; he became a well-regarded business turnaround expert without a college education.

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Politics
11:04 am
Fri December 3, 2010

Helen Thomas in Dearborn; defends controversial comments

Helen Thomas with President Gerald Ford
Marion Trikosko creative commons

Helen Thomas had worked for United Press International for 57 years. She was an opinion columnist for Hearst Newspapers from 2000 to 2010. She spent much of her career covering the White House.

She was let go earlier this year after she was briefly interviewed by Rabbi David Nesenoff of RabbiLive.com. After asking Thomas whether she had any comments on Israel, Thomas said, "tell them to get the hell out of Palestine."

The Detroit News reports that Helen Thomas, who grew up in Detroit, gave a speech saying:

"I stand by it. I told the truth," the 90-year-old Thomas told reporters shortly before a speech at a diversity conference Thursday. "I paid a price but it's worth it to speak the truth." During a speech that drew quick condemnation from Jews, Thomas took her remarks further. "Congress, the White House and Hollywood, Wall Street are owned by the Zionists," Thomas said. "No question."

Thomas spoke at the eighth-annual "Images and Perceptions of Arab American" conference in Dearborn.

State Law
8:43 am
Fri December 3, 2010

Last day for alcoholic energy drink sales

Today is the last day for alcoholic energy drink sales like Four Loko in Michigan

Today is the last day that stores in Michigan can sell alcoholic energy drinks.  Last month, the Michigan Liquor Control Commission announced it would ban sales of the controversial drinks because of health risks.

The Associated Press reports:

The Food and Drug Administration is requiring major brands of caffeinated alcoholic drinks to be taken off store shelves nationally by mid-December because of similar concerns. The agency says the combination of caffeine and alcohol in the drinks can lead to a "wide-awake drunk" and alcohol poisoning, car accidents and assaults.

At least four states have banned the drinks. You can find a list of the banned-drinks here.

News Roundup
7:27 am
Fri December 3, 2010

In this morning's news...

'Lame Duck' Comes To a Close

State lawmakers worked well into the early hours of Friday morning before finally calling it quits in the 2009-2010 legislative session. Lawmakers approved $10 million for the ‘Pure Michigan’ advertising campaign, that’s less than the $25 million that Governor Granholm wanted. Lawmakers failed to enact reforms on teacher-tenure and a measure that would require insurance companies to cover autism treatments for children.

Asian Carp Legal Setback

Michigan has lost a legal round in its effort to keep Asian Carp from reaching the Great Lakes. As Steve Carmody reports, “A federal judge in Chicago has denied a request by Michigan and several other states to order the closure of canals which link Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River basin. Asian Carp are a voracious invasive species. The carp have devastated Mississippi River fish populations.”  The states might continue the legal fight.

Some 260,000 in MI Received Unemployment Benefits

President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers released a report that says about 260,000 people in Michigan received unemployment benefits through October of this year. The report comes as the White House is ramping up its efforts to get Congress to approve extended jobless benefits for unemployed workers. At 12.8%, Michigan has the nation’s second-highest unemployment rate.

Snyder, Bernero Released Campaign Finance Reports

Governor-elect Rick Snyder and Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero filed their campaign finance reports for the 2010 gubernatorial election.  Snyder spent nearly $11 million; $6 million of which was his own. Bernero raised a little under $2 million and qualified for a little more than $1 million in public funds. Snyder takes the oath of office on January 1st, 2011.

Campaign Finance
6:55 am
Fri December 3, 2010

Snyder, Bernero disclose money spent in 2010 gubernatorial race

Photo by Tracy O/Flickr

As we've been reporting, yesterday was the last day for candidates who ran in Michigan’s 2010 election to report how much money they raised during the campaign season.

According to Republican Governor-elect Rick Snyder’s campaign finance reports, he spent almost $11 million during the campaign; $6 million of which was his own.

The Associated Press reports that Snyder’s largest donors were, “Pistons owner Karen Davidson and former Bechtel Group co-owner Stephen Bechtel and his wife, Elizabeth, of San Francisco.”

Snyder’s opponent in the race for governor, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, raised a little under $2 million and qualified for a little more than $1 million in public funds.

State Legislature
6:39 am
Fri December 3, 2010

'Lame Duck' comes to a close

Capitol Building: Lansing, MI
Terry Johnson/Flickr

Lawmakers worked throughout Thursday night and into early the early morning hours on Friday to complete their 2009-2010 legislative session.

Lawmakers approved $10 million dollars for the 'Pure Michigan' advertising campaign.  Governor Granholm had wanted $25 million for the campaign. Democratic state Representative Dan Scripps said the deal could have been better:

You know, we’ve put two options on the Senate’s desk, and the governor’s put a third one, and essentially they punted and raided from another pot and I just don’t think that’s the way to go. We can do better than this.

Efforts to enact teacher-tenure reforms that would make it easier to fire teachers failed as did a law that would require insurance companies to cover autism treatments for children.

State Law
6:20 am
Fri December 3, 2010

Granholm wants 'Pure Michigan' funding

Governor Jennifer Granholm
Photo courtesy of www.michigan.gov

Update 12/3/2010 6:18 AM

After working into the early morning hours, the state legislature finished their 2009-2010 legislative session this Friday morning.

Lawmakers approved $10 million dollars for the 'Pure Michigan' advertising campaign.  Governor Granholm had wanted $25 million for the campaign. Democratic state Representative Dan Scripps said the deal could have been better:

You know, we’ve put two options on the Senate’s desk, and the governor’s put a third one, and essentially they punted and raided from another pot and I just don’t think that’s the way to go. We can do better than this.

___

Update 12/2/2010 1:30 PM

Michigan Public Radio Network's Rick Pluta just let us know that Governor Granholm's office says she is trying to reach a deal to use economic development funds to get the 'Pure Michigan' advertising campaign back on the air. 

As the Detroit Free Press reports:

The Pure Michigan tourism ad campaign would be saved with a $25 million infusion from the state's 21st Century Jobs Fund, based on discussions today between lawmakers and Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

The tourism industry has also been pushing hard in the final days of the 2009-2010 legislative session to get state lawmakers to agree to fund the ad campaign.

Presidential Visit
4:26 pm
Thu December 2, 2010

Former President Bush in Grand Rapids today

Former President George W. Bush visits with an audience in Grand Rapids
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Update 4:23pm

Lindsey Smith just sent in this quote from former president George Bush's talk today in Grand Rapids:

"Like in '44 if somebody in Grand Rapids, Michigan said 'I predict someday America and Japan will stand shoulder to shoulder to enhance mutual security' they would have said 'what a hopeless, idealistic nut-job you are'. But democracy transformed an enemy to an ally. I know it sounds far-fetched for some that people want to be free in the Middle East and that freedom will take hold - I think it will."

Update 3:53 pm

The event with George W. Bush in Grand Rapids just wrapped up and reporter Lindsey Smith called in with some of her highlights from the talk:

  • Bush's opening line - "Most people didn't think I couldn't read a book, much less write one."
  • Bush said after his presidency it was like going from 100 mph to 10 mph and he had to figure out what to do with all his extra time
  • About the firing of Donald Rumsfeld Bush said that his relationship with him had gone from one of "creative tension" to one of "destructive tension."
  • About 9/11 and the decision to go into Iraq Bush said that it was a bold move that had to be made. He was disappointed that no WMDs were found. He also says that 9/11 changed his mind about preemptive strikes. If he hadn't done it, he believes there would have been a dangerous nuclear arms race between Iran and Iraq.
  • Bush says he's still in touch with Condoleezza Rice, but doesn't talk much with Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld.
  • He said he doesn't judge Barack Obama, and won't be pulled into criticizing or commenting on him and his presidency.

Update 12:42 pm:

Our reporter at the event, Lindsey Smith, says Secret Service told the media that laptops are not allowed. So, it might be that we have to wait for updates until after the former President speaks.

___

6:44 am

Former President George W. Bush will be in Grand Rapids this afternoon.  He'll be promoting his new book "Decision Points" at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum.

This is the former President's second visit to Grand Rapids this year.  He attended the Economic Club of Grand Rapids in June.

Campaign Finance
1:00 pm
Thu December 2, 2010

Just how much money did candidates raise for Election 2010?

Photo by Tracy O/Flickr

Candidates who ran in Michigan's 2010 election have until today to report just how much money they raised and spent during the 2010 campaign.

The Detroit News reports that as of today:

...only one of the major statewide candidates had filed a post-election report. Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, a Republican who defeated Democrat Jocelyn Benson, filed her report a day early on Wednesday.

The Detroit News expects reports will be filed today by Governor-elect Rick Snyder.

City Budgets
8:44 am
Thu December 2, 2010

Pontiac closer to shutting down Police Department

The city of Pontiac is a step closer to shutting down its Police Department
Nikonmania/FLICKR

The city of Pontiac is one step closer to shutting down its Police Department and having the Oakland County Sheriff's Office take over the city's patrols.

Pontiac faces a projected $9 million budget deficit and Michael Stampfler, Pontiac's state-appointed emergency financial manager, has asked the Oakland County Sheriff Department to take over policing the city.

The Detroit Free Press reports:

A committee of the Oakland County Board of Commissioners voted 4-3 Wednesday to approve the $10-million contract. The county's Finance Committee will consider the plan today, and the full board is to vote on it Dec. 9... Undersheriff Mike McCabe said the department is expected to hire more than 60 of the Pontiac department's 70 employees and operate out of the city's headquarters in downtown Pontiac.

If approved, the Oakland County Sheriff Department would takeover on January 1st, 2011.

Governor-elect Snyder
7:42 am
Thu December 2, 2010

Snyder announces director of state's D.C. office

Governor-elect Rick Snyder
Photo courtesy of www.governorelectricksnyder.com

Governor-elect Rick Snyder has chosen Bill McBride to be director of the State of Michigan Washington, D.C. office.  McBride was a deputy chief of staff for former-Governor of Michigan John Engler.  McBride currently is chief of staff to Michigan Republican Congressman Vern Ehlers of Grand Rapids.

In a statement released yesterday, Snyder said:

Michigan’s Congressional delegation will have significant influence in the upcoming Congress since our U.S. Senators and Representatives will chair key committees. Bill McBride’s experience and impressive working relationships on both sides of the aisle make him an outstanding choice to head up our Washington D.C. office.

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

News Roundup
7:09 am
Thu December 2, 2010

In this morning's news...

November Auto Sales

Auto sales rose 17 % in November from a year earlier. Ford sales were up 24%, Chrysler sales up by 17% and GM’s sales were up by 11%. As Reuters explained, the numbers were, “a stronger-than-expected gain that pointed to a slow but steady return in consumer demand from the depressed levels of a year ago.” GM and Chrysler both announced earlier in the week that they were hiring new workers.

Senate Approves Teacher-Tenure Reforms

As the final days of the 2009-2010 legislative session wrap up, the state Senate has approved teacher-tenure reforms.  The reforms, passed yesterday, would make it easier for school districts to fire teachers whose students don’t receive adequate test scores.  Speaker of the House Andy Dillon says he expects the House to vote on the measure today.  Teachers unions say the bills are unfair as they focus on teachers rather than problems with education funding in the state.

Wayne County Cuts Workers' Pay

Union employees in Wayne County are taking a 20% pay cut imposed by Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano. As Sarah Hulett reports, “the move comes after two years of negotiating failed to yield an agreement. Earlier this year, Ficano instituted unpaid furlough days after the union rejected a proposed 10 percent pay cut.” Ficano called the situation disappointing.

Presidential Visit

Former President George W. Bush will be in Grand Rapids this afternoon. He'll be promoting his new book, "Decision Points" at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum. This is the former President's second visit to Grand Rapids this year.  He attended the Economic Club of Grand Rapids in June.

State Legislature
2:43 pm
Wed December 1, 2010

House OKs bill for Detroit Institute of Arts

Inside the Detroit Institute of Arts
Maia C/Flickr

A bill approved today in the state House would allow the Detroit Institute of Arts to ask taxpayers for more money. The Associated Press reports the bill would:

...allow counties to form authorities that could ask voters for property taxes to fund arts institutes... The property taxes would have to be approved by voters in the region to take effect. Art institute authorities could ask for up to 0.2 mills.

The bill now heads to Governor Granholm for her signature. The state Senate already approved the measure.

State Legislature
1:54 pm
Wed December 1, 2010

'Lame Ducks' convene in Lansing

Capitol Building in Lansing, MI
Terry Johnston/FLICKR

Michigan lawmakers continue their 'lame duck' session in Lansing today and they're still trying to figure out the last pieces of legislation to pass before the 2009-2010 session comes to a close.

The Associated Press reports:

It's a safe bet lawmakers will pass a bill to distribute more than $300 million in federal money to schools. But... bills dealing with teacher tenure, fireworks sales, insurance coverage for autism treatments and dozens of other items could be voted on before the Legislature adjourns at the end of the week.

Bill Ballenger, the editor and publisher of the "Inside Michigan Politics" newsletter told Michigan Public Radio Network's Rick Pluta earlier this week that, "The chances of getting all of it done are slim."

Political Analysis
1:37 pm
Wed December 1, 2010

Lessenberry: Snyder is willing to go outside of the box

Michigan Radio's Jack Lessenberry

Governor-elect Rick Snyder named John Nixon as his new administration's budget director on Monday.  Nixon currently holds that position in Utah.

In an interview this morning on Michigan Radio, political analyst Jack Lessenberry said he thinks the pick shows that Snyder is willing to look outside of the box. Lessenberry said:

It shows that [Snyder] is certainly willing to... go outside the box and outside the state to find someone with a fresh approach to look at the all-important state budget problem. This is something that people had urged Governor Granholm to do when she first came in and which didn't happen.

Lessenberry went on to say that highly-regarded economist Charles Ballard often references Utah when discussing how Michigan could turn around its budget problems. Now, with the former head of Utah's Office of Planning and Budget becoming Snyder's budget director, Lessenberry said he is curious to see what lessons Michigan can learn. "Utah managed to balance its budget with a higher income tax," said Lessenberry, "It'll be interesting to see if that's part of the mix."

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State Law
11:36 am
Wed December 1, 2010

No Sunday morning liquor sales... yet

Martini
Ken30684/Creative Commons

Today is the day that a bill that allows alcohol sales on Sunday mornings and Christmas Day goes into effect. But, liquor control officials are still working on how to implement the new law. 

The Associated Press reports:

A spokeswoman for the Michigan Liquor Control Commission said Tuesday the agency will be posting applications for the $160 license needed to sell alcohol on Sunday mornings and notifying local governments about the new law this week. Local governments will have until Dec. 15 to notify state officials if they opt to ban Sunday morning sales.

Lawmakers last month approved the bill  that allows alcohol to go on sale starting at 7am on Sunday mornings and on Christmas Day.

Arts
11:20 am
Wed December 1, 2010

ArtPrize announces plans for 2011

Cavalry Study, the winner of the 2010 ArtPrize competition
MattVAndyK/Flickr

ArtPrize's organizers are announcing plans for the 3rd annual art competition next year in Grand Rapids.  The event will run in 2011 from September 21st through October 9th.

The Associated Press reports:

Organizers say they again expect top 10 prizes totaling $449,000 will be awarded. The public picks winners online and by cell phone in "American Idol"-style voting.

This year's ArtPrize was a 19-day event with the winner, Chris LaPorte of Grand Rapids, receiving the top prize of $250,000.

Governor-elect Snyder
8:10 am
Wed December 1, 2010

Mr. Snyder goes to Washington

Governor-elect Rick Snyder
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.

News Roundup
7:51 am
Wed December 1, 2010

In this morning's news...

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.

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