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

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.

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.

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.

Capitol Building, Lansing
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."

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."

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.

Cavalry Study
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.

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.

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