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

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It's Just Politics
8:45 am
Sun June 24, 2012

Romney changes his economic message, The Vagina Monologues comes to MI, and ballot-mania continues

Every week in It's Just Politics, Rick Pluta and I sit down and take a look at what's been making news in state politics. On tap for this week's extended edition: the Romney campaign shifts its economic message as state economies see improvement, Vagina-gate continues at the state Capitol, Democrats in the state's 76th District find a candidate to run against former-Democratic Rep. Roy Schmidt, we update the latest news on the state's many ballot proposals, and remember two state lawmakers who recently passed away.

It's Just Politics
1:33 pm
Fri June 22, 2012

Romney shifts campaign message as state economies improve

Mitt Romney in DeWitt, Mich. on last week's bus tour
Rick Pluta Michigan Radio

Today on It's Just Politics, co-hosts Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta discussed Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's Michigan campaign tour this week.  Romney also made campaign stops in Michigan last month, during which, Pluta says Romney's grim assessment of the Michigan economy created some friction with Republican Gov. Rick Snyder's more positive message of economic recovery in the "comeback state."

"We've talked about this before," said Pluta, "this tension between the messaging of a Republican governor, like Rick Snyder, who's saying, 'Look, we're making changes; things are improving; what we're doing is working,' and Mitt Romney coming into the state and saying, 'You're not doing that well.' It's basically a message of pessimism, and making the case for change."

On his tour this week, Pluta says, Romney has changed tones. The presidential hopeful lauded Snyder, saying he would do for the country what Snyder has done for the state.

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Politics
6:21 am
Fri June 22, 2012

One week later, debate over the use of the word "vagina" on the state House floor continues

Allieosmar Flickr

Every Thursday Michigan Radio's Jennifer White talks Michigan politics with Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service, and Ken Sikkema, former state Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

It's been a week, now, since Democratic State Representative Lisa Brown was barred from speaking on the state House floor for using the word "vagina" during a debate on anti-abortion legislation. State Representative Barbara Byrum, a Democrat, was also banned from speaking on the floor because she spoke out of turn.

White, Demas and Sikkema explore why this story just won't seem to go away.

Politics
11:01 am
Thu June 21, 2012

As states see improving economies, Romney campaign tries to change the message

Mitt Romney
Gage Skidmore Flickr

In a Bloomberg piece this morning, Michael C. Bender is reporting that, “Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign asked Florida Governor Rick Scott to tone down his statements heralding improvements in the state’s economy because they clash with the presumptive Republican nominee’s message that the nation is suffering under President Barack Obama, according to two people familiar with the matter.”

But Romney doesn’t just have a Florida messaging “problem.” Last month, Rick Pluta, co-host of It’s Just Politics, and I took a look at the same problem that the Romney campaign is having with Republican Governor Rick Snyder and Michigan’s improving economy.

During a visit to Michigan in May, Romney said, “These last few years have been hard on the people in Lansing, and frankly, they've been hard on the people of America.” This message didn’t quite mesh with Governor Snyder’s statement that, “if you look at where we're at, we’re the comeback state in the United States today.”

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Politics
8:56 am
Thu June 21, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines...

Morning News Roundup, Thursday, June 21st, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

EM Repeal

Supporters of a referendum to overturn Michigan’s emergency manager law are continuing to try to make sure that a question whether to repeal the law is on the November ballot. Sarah Cwiek reports:

Supports of the repeal filed an emergency motion with the Michigan Court of Appeals Wednesday to speed the process along.

After a complicated legal process, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled the question should go on the ballot last week, but without specifying it could take “immediate effect.” So the order could sit for as long as 42 days.

Melvin “Butch” Hollowell, a lawyer with the pro-referendum group Stand Up for Democracy, says this asks the court to act within seven days to ensure the ballot question doesn’t get bogged down in the legal system.

But Bob LaBrant, a spokesman for the group Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility—which initially managed to keep the measure off the ballot because of a dispute over petition font size, calls the move “meritless.”

LaBrant says the group will file an appeal with the Michigan Supreme Court, possibly as soon as next week.

Casino Expansion?

A drive to allow eight new privately owned casinos in Michigan says it’s gathered more than enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot. Rick Pluta reports:

Michigan already has two dozen tribal casinos and three privately owned casinos in Detroit.

Emily Gerkin Palsrok is with Citizens for Michigan Jobs. She says there’s room for more casinos, which would bring more jobs and tax revenue.

"Our signature collection has gone very well. We’ve had a very positive response. We’re going to have well more than the 322,000 – which is the minimum we need, and we’re going to be wrapping up our process in the next couple of weeks," Palsrok says.

The amendment is opposed by the existing casino operators. A spokesman for the “Vote No” campaign says people should not be allowed to buy a business opportunity by amending the state constitution.

Auto Quality

U.S. automakers have not caught up to their Asian competitors when it comes to quality  -- but American vehicles are still highly rated. 

“A company that measures consumer satisfaction says Lexus drivers reported the fewest problems during the first three months of ownership. Dave Sargent is a vice president at J.D. Power and Associates. He says Jaguar and Porsche tied for second and General Motors' Cadillac came in third in the quality survey. Sargent says Chrysler as a whole improved significantly compared with last year. Ford, however, was flat in the quality rankings. Sargent says Ford wrestled with its My Ford Touch technology, although the company has made improvements,” Rina Miller reports.

News Roundup
9:10 am
Wed June 20, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines...

Morning News Roundup, Wednesday, June 20th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Romney Stumps in Mich.

Mitt Romney wrapped up a tour of small towns in Michigan last night. “Thousands of Romney supporters in shorts and sandals rallied on a beach near Holland, Michigan. With Lake Michigan as a backdrop, Romney used his speech to focus on how important a strong American economy and military are to the rest of the world. Romney hopes to win over his native state. Michigan hasn’t gone for a Republican presidential candidate in more than 20 years,” Lindsey Smith reports.

"K2" Crackdown

On July 1, the state will launch a crackdown to clear store shelves of a type of synthetic marijuana called K2. Governor Rick Snyder signed a law yesterday that outlaws K2 and other designer drugs. “K2 is made of plants sprayed with a chemical to create a high that’s similar to marijuana – but with more dangerous side effects such as seizures and speeding heart rates. Because it’s still legal and not controlled, it can be purchased by children. The new law signed by Governor Snyder not only outlaws K2, but it also outlaws any derivative drugs that might be created by tweaking the recipe. One of those tools is to give the state Department of Community Health director and the Board of Pharmacy emergency powers to outlaw new designer drugs as they emerge.

Asian Carp DNA

Illinois officials are downplaying the recent discovery of Asian Carp DNA in a waterway a short distance from Lake Michigan. Steve Carmody reports:

Asian Carp are an invasive species that experts fear could devastate fish native to the Great Lakes. The Army Corps of Engineers routinely tests Illinois waterways for signs of the carp. One carp was caught a few years ago, just a few miles from Lake Michigan. Chris McCloud is a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. He says a rapid response team spent two days searching the waterways for any signs of carp. McCloud says a second round of DNA testing is underway. He notes that past positive DNA tests have not led to the discovery of live Asian Carp in the Chicago area. Three electric barriers separate Chicago area waterways from carp-infested rivers and streams to the south.

Politics
7:49 am
Wed June 20, 2012

The week in Michigan politics

Matthileo Flickr

Every Wednesday, we speak with Michigan Radio's political analyst Jack Lessenberry about what's going on in state politics. On tap for this week: Mitt Romney campaigns in Michigan, the debate over the word "vagina" continues at the state Capitol and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing says he'd like to rid the city of its top lawyer.

Election 2012
1:52 pm
Tue June 19, 2012

Mitt Romney campaigning in DeWitt, Mich.

Ann and Mitt Romney
Rick Pluta Michigan Public Radio Network

Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney began speaking a short time ago to a crowd in DeWitt, Mich. Michigan Public Radio Network's Rick Pluta sent along these photos. Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith will be in Holland this evening covering Romney's campaign stop in West Michigan.

Politics
6:34 am
Tue June 19, 2012

“Vagina Monologues” attracts thousands at state Capitol (Slideshow)

Thousands of people gathered last night at the state Capitol to protest with a staging of the "Vagina Monologues."
Rick Pluta Michigan Public Radio Network

A few thousand people crowded onto the lawn of the state Capitol last night to protest last week's silencing  of two female state lawmakers, and to watch a performance of “The Vagina Monologues.”

Michigan Public Radio Network's Rick Pluta was there and reports that, "the word 'vagina' was everywhere – emblazoned on signs and t-shirts. 'Vagina,' and virtually every slang variation, was part of the theatrical performance. People shouted it out and waved their fingers in Vs. 'Gimme the three Vs! Vagina! Voice! Vote!'

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Education
1:54 pm
Wed June 13, 2012

Illiteracy and its effects on our society

Infographic on literacy.
Thea Card Michigan Radio

It’s one of the most fundamental parts of our daily lives. Something you have probably taken for granted.

It's the ability to read.

In the United States, more than 40 percent of adults with very low literacy live in poverty.

One in five Americans read below the level needed to earn a living wage.

And more than 70 percent of the U.S. prison population cannot read above a fourth grade level.

In collaboration with WBEZ's Front & Center project, Michigan Radio peels back the layers of low-literacy.

In our hour-long show, we explore the impacts that illiteracy has on our communities and what literacy, in an every changing digital world, will really mean in our future.

Literacy is a big issue of concern for our educational system. Illiteracy can prevent people from filling out a job application or earning living wage. It also affects your civic participation.

Take a listen to our show using the "listen" button above, and share your thoughts with us!

It's Just Politics
6:59 pm
Fri June 8, 2012

Just how does a politican decide whether or not to back an income tax rollback

Zoe Clark: It's Just Politics, I'm Zoe Clark.

Rick Pluta: And, I'm Rick Pluta.

ZC: And, Rick, I think it’s only fair to say that Democratic lawmakers at the state Capitol are not happy.

RP: Indeed, they’re mad.

ZC: Mad about the passage of an income-tax reduction.

RP: And they made their point known on the House floor.

ZC: So, of course, when it came time to actually vote, Democrats rallied together and voted a resounding, “No.”

RP: Whoa, whoa, whoa, Zoe, don’t go that far. Yes, they railed against it. Said it’s too little by way of “tax relief” – that phrase that gets tossed about when we’re discussing tax cuts -- for middle class families compared to all the tax exemptions and credits that were scrapped last year by Republicans in the name of tax fairness.

ZC: Democrats say this is the wrong use of $90 million earmarked for so-called “tax relief.” They say it’s also pretty paltry and that Republicans are just playing election year politics. But they still voted for it. So, what gives?

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News Roundup
9:01 am
Thu June 7, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines...

Morning News Roundup, Thursday, June 7th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

House Passes Tax Rollback

The state House has approved an election-year tax reduction. The measures now head to the state Senate. Michigan Public Radio’s Rick Pluta reports:

Last year, the Legislature delayed an income tax rollback. That helped balance the budget and pay for eliminating the Michigan Business Tax. This year, the Legislature wants to move up a reduction in the tax rate and increase the personal exemption. Republican Representative Jud Gilbert chairs the House Tax Policy Committee. He says it’s time for individual taxpayers to benefit from the state’s economic recovery. “I kind of take exception to the idea that this is somehow political pandering, election year politics,” Gilbert said. But, Democrats say that’s exactly what this tax cut is. And they say it’s paltry compared to the loss of a dozen deductions and exemptions last year that shifted more of the tax burden to low- and middle-income families.

Snyder Recall Over

Just two days after the failed attempt to recall Republican Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, an attempt to recall Governor Rick Snyder has ended. In an early morning press release, the group Michigan Rising says it's ending its effort to recall Snyder after months of trying to gather signatures to put the question on the state’s November ballot. "It has become abundantly clear that Michigan Rising was not going accomplish its goal of recalling Governor Snyder.  The results in Wisconsin crystalized how difficult a task it is to recall a sitting governor,” the press release states. There has never been a successful Gubernatorial recall in the state’s history.

Ambassador Bridge Owner Ramps Up Spending

A new report from a Washington-based watchdog group finds Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun is ramping up political spending as plans for a new, public  bridge from Detroit to Windsor, Ontario move forward.  Sarah Cwiek reports:

The group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington--or CREW--tracked campaign donations to members of Congress from Moroun’s family, company, and associates. It found well over a -million dollars in donations from 2004 through 2010. Melanie Sloan is executive director of CREW Executive Director. She says the Morouns are targeting Michigan members of Congress. An Ambassador Bridge spokesman dismisses the report as “misguided,” and accuses CREW of deliberately skewing facts and context.

Breaking
6:58 am
Thu June 7, 2012

Group announces it is ending its effort to recall Governor Snyder

Michigan Municipal League Flickr

In an early Thursday morning press release, Michigan Rising says it's ending its effort to recall Republican Governor Rick Snyder. From the release:

"It has become abundantly clear that Michigan Rising was not going accomplish its goal of recalling Governor Snyder.  The results in Wisconsin crystalized how difficult a task it is to recall a sitting governor, even when the unions and the Democratic Party play a significant role in the effort.  To quote the words of Senator Ted Kennedy, `The work goes on.  The cause endures.  The hope still lives and the dream shall never die,´" said Communications Director Bruce Fealk.

The recall effort was well short of its benchmark to have 200,000 petition signatures by June 1."

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News Roundup
8:06 am
Wed June 6, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines...

Morning News Roundup, Wednesday, June 6th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Budget Heads to Snyder

The state’s budget for schools, universities, and community colleges is on its way to Governor Rick Snyder. “This budget is a stark contrast to last year – when lawmakers passed widespread spending cuts, and many businesses saw a tax reduction. Democrats complain this budget does not make up for last year’s cuts to education. Governor Rick Snyder says he’s pleased the state put money into its rainy day savings, and was able to offer modest increases to schools and universities. The new budget will require universities to meet performance standards to qualify for their full funding. It could also penalize Michigan State University for requiring students to carry health coverage or buy it through the school. The spending plan also sets aside money for an election year income tax cut,” Rick Pluta reports.

Union Dues

A lawyer says a Detroit federal judge plans to block a new state law that stops school districts from deducting union dues from paychecks, the Associated Press reports. From the AP:

Union lawyer Mark Cousens says Judge Denise Page Hood ruled from the bench Tuesday and plans to issue an injunction today. The law took effect in late March but doesn't affect districts that still have active contracts with teachers and other union-represented employees. Unions say the law was retaliation by Republican lawmakers and GOP Gov. Rick Snyder after unions began collecting signatures to protect collective bargaining in the state Constitution. The law passed by only two votes in the House and two in the Senate. Supporters say teachers and other school employees can pay dues and fees without payroll deduction.

Bus Ridership Increases

Several cities in Michigan saw large increases in bus ridership in the first quarter of this year. But the state's largest city saw a decline. “Bus ridership on "The Rapid" jumped 12 percent in the Grand Rapids metro area. Ann Arbor's bus system saw a 9 percent increase, which officials also attribute to better service.  But in Detroit, bus ridership fell six and a half percent.  That's in contrast to almost every other major U.S. city, where bus ridership grew in the first quarter. Detroit's system is notorious for buses that don't show up or that break down,” Tracy Samilton reports.

Politics
7:59 am
Wed June 6, 2012

The Week in Michigan Politics

Contemplative Flickr

Every Wednesday we sit down with Michigan Radio's Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry to take a look at the political stories making news this week in Michigan. Today: the state budget is one step closer to being finalized, reports say an announcement on a new Detroit to Windsor international bridge could be coming soon, and we take a look at what Scott Walker's win in Wisconsin yesterday means for Michigan.

Politics
5:10 pm
Tue June 5, 2012

Lt. Gov. Calley: I expect the owners of the Ambassador Bridge to continue the campaign of deceit

J. Stephen Conn Flickr

Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley is continuing to push for the need to secure an additional international border crossing between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario. The new bridge would directly connect Michigan’s freeway system with that of its most important trading partner, Canada.

Calley says the Snyder administration will continue to plow ahead with “the end-to-end border solution that Michigan manufacturing needs,” despite some anticipated pushback.

“We don’t have a final determination of the plan as of yet, although we’re zeroing in. I do expect that the owners of the Ambassador Bridge will continue the campaign of deceit and the campaign of lies on what the proposal actually is," Calley says.

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Politics
3:09 pm
Tue June 5, 2012

WI Governor Walker faces recall... what does it mean for Governor Snyder

What will a Scott Walker recall mean for Governor Snyder's policies, and popularity, in Michigan?
wmrice Flicker

It's a big day in Wisconsin as voters in that state are deciding whether or not to recall their Republican Governor Scott Walker. Here in Michigan, however, Republican Governor Rick Snyder is faring a little better.

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News Roundup
8:20 am
Tue June 5, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines...

Morning News Roundup, Tuesday, June 5th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Light Rail in Southeast Michigan?

Elected leaders and private backers of the proposed Woodward Avenue light rail line met yesterday with federal transit officials in Detroit. Sarah Cwiek reports:

Backers left the meeting with yet another 60-day deadline to try and secure federal funding. The so-called M-1 light rail project has had a lot of dramatic ups and downs in the past few months. Governor Rick Snyder and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing—at U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s urging—decided to switch an initial federal grant for the project to a regional rapid bus system in January. But M-1’s private backers, including Detroit businessmen Roger Penske and Dan Gilbert, have continued to push for the project. Federal officials are worried the rail proposal still lacks some key elements—including a regional transit authority to fund and operate it. Bing, Snyder and Penske said they’ll work on addressing those concerns before the two sides meet again in 60 days. The current M-1 proposal would extend just 3.4 miles down Woodward, connecting downtown Detroit and the New Center area.

New Pipeline Post-Kalamazoo Oil Spill

Enbridge Energy will take its plans for a new oil pipeline across the state of Michigan to state regulators this week. “The new pipeline will replace the one that ruptured in 2010, spewing hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude oil into the Kalamazoo River. The Michigan Public Service Commission will meet with Enbridge officials tomorrow to discuss the company’s pipeline plan. The agency approved plans for another section of the same pipeline plan last month. The planned new pipeline is larger than the one it will replace,” Steve Carmody reports.

Anti-Bullying Policies

Every K-12 school in Michigan has to adopt an anti-bullying policy by tomorrow. “Michigan was the 48th state to pass a school anti-bullying law. Martin Ackley is with the Michigan Department of Education. He said the law is very important to help students feel safe. ‘The bottom line is to protect the kids who are being bullied because it is definitely not deserved and it’s not helpful to the kids, to the school, to the families, to the communities and the consequences are dire,’ Ackley said. Each school in Michigan will draft its own anti-bullying policy which will include state guidelines,” Emily Fox reports.

It's Just Politics
5:30 pm
Fri June 1, 2012

Dirty politics: The new normal in Michigan?

Intrigue. Deception. Conspiracy... Yes, it certainly feels like politics in Michigan is becoming a little more wrought with fraud-filled stories. In this week's It's Just Politics, we ask: are dirty politics the new normal in Michigan?

Zoe Clark: Allegations of fraud. That’s the big political story this week.

Rick Pluta: Petition fraud – it’s the new hanging chad.

ZC: Can we call this the “Hanging Thad” scandal?

RP: You are referring, of course, to Thad McCotter.

ZC: The Republican congressman from Livonia, failed presidential candidate and guitar hero is not disputing that he does not have enough petition signatures to qualify for the primary ballot.

RP: He did own up. He released a statement, accepting “full responsibility” – his words -- for the screw-up...  And then he blamed someone else, that he had trusted the wrong people. 

ZC: That’s the way the pros do it! But it’s why he doesn’t have the signatures that’s so….. weird.

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It's Just Politics
8:56 pm
Wed May 30, 2012

Mackinac Policy Conference: A political free-for-all

The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. The Grand hosts the annual Mackinac Policy Conference put on by the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce.
jpwbee Flickr

Day two of the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce's annual Mackinac Policy Conference is winding down but that certainly doesn't mean the politics at the event is slowing. In a special Wednesday edition of It's Just Politics, Rick Pluta, Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network, and I take a look at the political gossip floating across the Island.

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