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

News Roundup
8:35 am
Mon May 14, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines...

Morning News Roundup, Monday, May 14th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Individual Tax Cut?

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley says a tax rollback for individual filers could be part of an overall plan to cut taxes for manufacturers. “The state Senate has approved a proposed phase-out of the tax on most manufacturing equipment. The package now goes to the state House. House Speaker Jase Bolger says he wants to roll into it a reduction in the state income tax or some other tax on individuals. Calley says he and Gov. Snyder are open to the idea. Democrats have complained that the tax reductions enacted by Republicans in Lansing over the past year and a half have all been directed at businesses,” Rick Pluta reports.

Pure Michigan

The Obama Administration wants to step up efforts to promote the U.S. as an international tourism destination and that’s welcome news to the folks who run the “Pure Michigan” campaign. Steve Carmody reports:

Michigan tourism officials know people from foreign countries come here to vacation, but they don’t know how many. And that’s important to know when they’re planning how to spend the “Pure Michigan” campaign’s $25 million advertising budget. This year, only about one percent, or about $250,000, is being spent to promote Michigan as a tourism destination in Europe, mainly in England and Germany. Nothing is being spent in Asia. Right now, the “Pure Michigan” campaign is focusing on regional promotions with some national ads, .and “a modest effort” in Canada.

Northern MI Wildfire

Officials say two wildfires in Michigan's northern Lower Peninsula burned nearly 400 acres before being brought under control by fire crews, the Associated Press reports. “WWTV/WWUP reports the first fire started in Ogemaw County's Foster Township and burned about 125 acres on Sunday. The second fire was about four miles away and burned about 250 acres. No injuries were reported. People along a mile-long section of roadway near the first fire were evacuated Sunday but since have returned home. There's no word of structure damage.The cause of the fires is under investigation,” the AP explains.

It's Just Politics: Extended Edition
6:01 pm
Fri May 11, 2012

Senate passes PPT; a MI Supreme Court justice's real estate woes; and a state Rep. calls it quits

Every Friday Rick Pluta and I take a look at state politics in It's Just Politics (you can check out this week's edition here.) But, it can be pretty darn hard to fit all of the week's political stories into just five minutes.

So, if you're as much of a political junkie as we both are, take a listen to an extended version of It's Just Politics.

On tap for this afternoon: the politics behind the state Senate's vote to rollback Michigan's personal property tax, the controversy surrounding Michigan Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway's sketchy-looking real estate deals, and allegations that state Representative Lisa Brown fired an employee for being pregnant.

It's Just Politics
4:02 pm
Fri May 11, 2012

Governor Snyder thinks Michigan's economy is improving; Mitt Romney: Not so much

It's Just Politics, May 11th, 2012
Gage Skidmore Flickr

In this week's edition of It's Just Politics, Rick Pluta and I take a look at the politics of taking credit for a good economy. Governor Snyder says Michigan's economy is improving but that's not the story that Mitt Romney wants to tell.

Zoe Clark: Rick, I have a great idea for this week's show!

Rick Pluta: Actually, Zoe, I think maybe it was someone else’s idea first.

Mitt Romney: “So, I’ll take a lot of credit...”

RP: That’s our cheap setup for the fact that Mitt Romney paid a visit to Michigan this week.

ZC: Indeed, he campaigned this week at Lansing Community College.

RP: Prior to hitting the ground here in Lansing, Romney gave an interview with an Ohio TV station, where he said President Obama really followed his plan - the Romney plan - for the bailout of the auto industry.

ZC: And, so, there’s this disconnect. Was the bailout bad? Or, wasn’t it? Governor Rick Snyder – a Romney supporter -- says it’s time to just stop talking about it.

Rick Snyder: “I think too much time is spent on the whole bailout question. It worked, it's done, it's over with. There's  other ways it probably could have been done. But, the point is it was successful."

RP: So, move on, folks. There’s nothing more to see here. Let’s change the subject. And this speaks to the sometimes awkward dance between governors and presidential candidates -- when they are from the same political party.  Rick Snyder is telling people things are looking up.

Snyder: “Now, if you look at where we're at, we’re the comeback state in the United States today.”

RP: The “comeback state,” outpacing the nation in job creation, manufacturing on the rise. And Mitt Romney?

Romney: “These last few years have been hard on the people in Lansing and frankly they've been hard on the people of America. “

ZC: Not hearing that relentless positivity there.

RP: This guy’s harshin’ my mellow. 

ZC: Rick Snyder does say there’s more work to be done. That Washington needs a healthy dose of what’s working in Michigan. But that’s not Romney’s message.

RP: Right. Where Rick Snyder says life is good and getting better, Mitt Romney says you’re worse off than you might have been. It’s not good, and whatever might be good is going to head south without some change.  

ZC: This dichotomy is not new. In the 1990s, the economy was booming John Engler was the Republican governor of Michigan, Bill Clinton, the Democratic president. When it came to that success…

RP: Credit for a good economy wasn’t a problem for Governor Jennifer Granholm. With George W.Bush in the White House, the economy was bad and it was a battle of blame. And it became mutually assured political destruction - we saw that by the time the time both of them office - Bush in 2009, Granholm on January first of 2011 - they were both pretty unpopular.  

ZC: That speaks to a few things, but one of them is people seeking office will cast a lot of blame for the bad, lay claim to the good, but there are really a lot of things outside their control that will decide the state of the economy and the state of their popularity.

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News Roundup
8:23 am
Fri May 11, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines...

Morning News Roundup, Friday, May 11th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Senate Passes Industrial Tax Phase Out

The state Senate voted yesterday to phase out a tax on most industrial and business property in Michigan. "The tax is a big revenue generator for school districts and local governments. Senate Republicans amended their original plan so it now provides some assurances it won’t force big cuts to education and other services. State Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville says the tax on industrial equipment, in particular, is so unique it drives investment elsewhere. Democrats say the rollback is part of a pattern in Lansing of shifting the tax burden from businesses to individuals," Rick Pluta reports.

Bing Appoints a Detroit CFO

Jack Martin has been appointed chief financial officer in Detroit. Sarah Hulett reports:

The CFO is one of two key positions in the effort to turnaround the city's troubled finances. Martin served as CFO of the U.S. Department of Education several years ago, and in January he was picked to be the state-appointed emergency manager of Highland Park schools. The Detroit native says he also helped turn around Washington D.C.'s municipal finances. Martin will work alongside a still-unnamed program management director, and a financial advisory board. He starts the job on Monday with a yearly salary of $220,000.

Snyder Talks Bridge in Canada

Governor Snyder visited Windsor, Ontario yesterday to discuss plans with Canadian officials for another bridge across the Detroit River. Ken Silfven, a spokesman for the Governor says the administration, “remains committed to a Canadian-U.S. collaboration to build a span to supplement the privately owned Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor. The Windsor Star reports that U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Jacobson also attended the meeting. Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel "Matty" Moroun has been fiercely battling the proposal with ads and lobbying. He seeks to add a span to his own bridge instead,” the Associated Press reports.

News Roundup
8:38 am
Thu May 10, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines...

Morning News Roundup, Thursday, May 10th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Tuition Breaks for Veterans

Veterans who come to Michigan after retiring from military duty could soon get a tuition break at community colleges and universities. “A state House committee approved legislation yesterday that would waive the residency requirement for veterans to qualify for in-state or local tuition rates. State Representative Holly Hughes is one of the sponsors. Hughes says the tuition break would also encourage veterans to settle in Michigan once their service is complete. Universities and community colleges say the legislation does not make up for their lost revenue from the tuition breaks,” Rick Pluta reports.

Mandatory Sentences?

A bill in the Michigan Senate would impose tougher penalties on habitual criminals. Rina Miller reports:

A three-time felon who commits a fourth serious offense in Michigan would get a mandatory 25-year sentence under the proposal. The bill has the backing of State Attorney General Bill Schuette as well as law enforcement groups. The Attorney General's office says the mandatory sentence for fourth offenses would include assault with intent to murder, second-degree murder, kidnapping and manslaughter. State Senator Steve Bieda says he'd like to refine the bill to give judges more sentencing discretion depending on the severity of the crime.

DNR Auction

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources auctioned off state-owned oil and natural gas drilling rights yesterday. More than $4 million dollars was made by leasing some 91,225 acres of land. “The money raised from these biannual auctions has been steadily increasing since 2000, hitting peaks in 2008 and 2010. In the first auction of 2008, the state leased all of the 149,000 available acres for more than $13 million. The last time the state had a 100 percent lease rate was in 1981. The first auction in 2010 had a 99.6 percent lease rate and raised an unprecedented amount: more than $178 million,” Suzanne Jacobs reports.

News Roundup
8:52 am
Wed May 9, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines...

Morning News Roundup, Wednesday, May 9th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Election Results

Voters from more than 200 communities turned out yesterday for local elections. In West Michigan, the nearly $100-million-dollar Grand Rapids Community College millage failed. Voters in other parts of the state, however, seemed more willing to spend on education. The Ann Arbor Public Schools technology bond passed with 70 percent in favor of the bond. Voters also approved a bond proposal in the Bloomfield Hills School District. In Brighton, voters narrowly approved an $88 million bond issue. A one-percent city income tax was defeated in Ypsilanti. And, voters in the Lansing area defeated a proposal that would have added a surcharge on their water bills to pay for a sludge dryer in Delhi Township.

Romney Campaigns in Lansing

Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney returned to Michigan yesterday to deliver an address at Lansing Community College. Rick Pluta reports:

Romney spoke to a crowd of about 500 people. He went on the attack against President Obama’s handling of the economy. Michigan is outpacing the nation in new hiring, but Romney says the recovery is anemic, and the President mishandled the rescue of the domestic auto industry. He says the President’s rhetoric has not matched his results. The Obama campaign says the resurgence of the auto industry and hiring in the manufacturing sector are proof the president’s policies are working. The Obama and Romney campaigns say they intend to wage a battle for Michigan, which has voted with the Democratic nominee for president in the last five elections.

Snyder Signs Taser Measure

People with concealed pistol permits in Michigan will soon be able to carry Tasers. “Governor Snyder signed the bill into law yesterday. The rules will be the same as those that apply to people authorized to carry firearms in Michigan. More than a quarter-million people in Michigan have concealed pistol licenses. Michigan joins 44 other states that allow people to carry Tasers in public,” Sarah Hulett reports.

Politics
7:47 am
Wed May 9, 2012

The week in Michigan politics

The Week in State Politics, May 9th, 2012
The Toad Flickr

Every Wednesday, we take a look at the week in state politics with Michigan Radio's Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry. Today, we talk about what yesterday's election results mean for communities across the state and what Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney had to say during a campaign visit to Lansing yesterday.

Politics
4:58 am
Wed May 9, 2012

Election Results: May 8th, 2012

Election Results: May 8th, 2012
Lower Community College Flickr

Election results from across the state are in as voters from more than 200 communities held local election’s yesterday.

In West Michigan, the nearly $100-million-dollar Grand Rapids Community College millage failed.

Voters in other parts of the state, however, seemed more willing to spend on education. The Ann Arbor Public Schools technology bond passed with 70 percent in favor of the bond. As AnnArbor.com reports, "the bond plan will be phased-in over the course of 10 years in three separate series, spending $27.27 million in 2012, $10.57 million in 2015 and $8.01 million in 2018. The first series will be for equipment and infrastructure improvements primarily, while the final two series are not entirely planned out yet. More than half of the $45.8 million, about $25 million, will be spent to replace the district’s nearly 8,250 computers — both laptops and desktops."

Voters also approved a bond proposal in the Bloomfield Hills School District. "The result followed a decade of debate and previous votes on the district's two aging and shrinking high schools. With 61% of voters saying yes, residents of the Bloomfield Hills School District voted 7,817-4,998 to pass a proposal that will fund a single high school," the Detroit Free Press reports.

In Brighton, voters narrowly approved an $88 million bond issue. The unofficial vote was 4969-4476.

In, other results, a one-percent city income tax was defeated in Ypsilanti. Only about 35 percent of voters were in favor of the tax.

Voters near Lansing defeated a proposal that would have added a surcharge on their water bills to pay for a sludge dryer in Delhi Township. As the Associated Press reports, "the proposal would have created a system to dry sludge from the community's wastewater treatment system. The unofficial final vote count shows it failing 2,471-1,726. Michigan State University said it was willing to buy a ton a day for its power plant."

And, in Hudsonville, a suburb of Grand Rapids, voters defeated a proposal to join a regional transit system.

It's Just Politics
5:48 pm
Fri May 4, 2012

Dingell goes for 30; Snyder for Veep; U.P. secession; and an intra-party GOP fight

Flickr
Contemplative Imaging

Too busy to check in on all of the political news happening this week in Michigan? Or, maybe you just weren't able to fill your political appetite this week. Well, don't fret! Michigan Public Radio Network's Rick Pluta and I spent some time this afternoon taking a look at the week-that-was in Michigan politics in an extended edition of It's Just Politics.

On tap for this Friday:

  • A Florida political analyst sparks speculation about a possible Mitt Romney/Rick Snyder GOP presidential ticket
  • A group of unhappy Yoopers talks U.P. secession
  • Southeast Michigan Rep. John Dingell announces he'll run for a record 30th term in the U.S. House of Representatives
  • After a lot of "will he or won't he" talk, former Republican Rep. Joe Schwarz says he will not run as a Democrat in November against incumbent Rep. Tim Walberg
  • State Democrats caucus tomorrow to pick their presidential nominee and we ask: will it be President Barack Obama or President Barack Obama? (Our money is on President Barack Obama)
It's Just Politics
3:25 pm
Fri May 4, 2012

Up in smoke: The hazy politics of pot in Michigan

It's Just Politics: May 4th, 2012
Eggrole Flickr

In this week's edition of It's Just Politics, Rick Pluta, Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network and I take on the politics of pot. It's a hazy situation and an issue that's getting chronic attention in the state (okay, okay, enough with the drug innuendo).

Where things stand

In 2008 voters – by a pretty large margin - voted to make medical marijuana legal in the state. But, the law is confusing. Not only is there the fact that it’s still illegal under federal law, there are also questions about if and how dispensaries should be regulated; the medical conditions for which  medical marijuana should be prescribed; the size and location of marijuana plants that one is allowed to grow... I could go on and on.

Pluta: Exactly… there are more questions than answers when it comes to this law because it is so vague. So, this week, we’ve seen some measures to add clarity to the law. But, because this law was a voter-initiated and approved law, to  change it, any measure has to have a three fourths majority in both the state House and Senate. Something that’s not in this package is dispensaries – that’s in court right now, but some lawmakers don’t want to wait for a state Supreme Court ruling. They say dispensaries could cure some problems – especially what to do when someone who is legally growing marijuana has more weed than they can use. 

Clark: So, just this week state Representative Mike Callton introduced a measure to legalize medical marijuana dispensaries. But, Callton says he was against the medical marijuana law that passed in 2008.

Collton: “…I think what voters passed is nuts, just crazy insane.”

Pluta: So, why is he introducing this then?

Clark: That is, indeed the question.

Pluta: Callton and some others say it would be better for dispensaries to buy up, or otherwise take possession of, surplus pot instead of having it sold illegally on the street. There’s a division, though. Some Republicans basically consider dispensaries legalized dope dens.

Clark: So, that’s a debate that will take place probably this summer on dispensaries. What’s moving right now would require in-person doctor’s visits to get a medical marijuana card, a picture I.D., and police access to medical marijuana records.

Pluta: Medical marijuana advocates say some of this goes too far. In a couple of instances, it reverses what voters approved in the medical marijuana law and, so, they’re trying again. There is a petition drive in the field to put a question on the ballot to make Michigan a legalized marijuana state.  We’ll see if they can get enough signatures.

Read more
News Roundup
8:39 am
Wed May 2, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines...

Morning News Roundup, Wednesday, May 2nd
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Student Loan Debt

A pair of Michigan lawmakers is warning that people with government-backed student loans will see their interest rate double - unless members of Congress can agree on a plan to maintain and pay for a lower rate. Sarah Hulett reports:

The interest rate for Stafford loans is set to go up to 6.8 percent on July 1st. The U.S. House passed a Republican-sponsored bill last week that would maintain a lower rate, and pay for it with cuts to public health programs. Michigan U.S. Representatives Gary Peters and Hansen Clarke are co-sponsors of a bill that would instead end six billion dollars’ worth of subsidies to the oil and gas industries. That's the cost to the federal government of keeping the lower interest rate.

Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

A Republican state lawmaker has introduced a measure to make medical marijuana dispensaries legal in communities that want them. “State Representative Mike Callton has unveiled legislation to legalize dispensaries and allow the facilities to buy growers’ excess amounts of marijuana. He says that would help keep surplus medical marijuana off the black market. Right now, the legal status of medical marijuana dispensaries is waiting on a ruling from the state Supreme Court. Michigan voters approved the state’s medical marijuana law in 2008. The law makes no mention of dispensaries for medical marijuana cardholders,” Rick Pluta reports.

Federal Money for Community Health

Ten community health centers in Michigan will get more almost $20 million in federal funds. Sarah Cwiek reports:

Those health centers are key primary care providers for uninsured and underinsured people in many communities. The money is part of about $11 billion provided to community health clinics through the national health care reform law. Dr. Anand Parekh, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health, Science and Medicine with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, calls the health centers “an important safety net.” Parekh says the Obama administration isn’t focused on legal challenges that could void parts or all of health care reform. Instead, he says they are in “full implementation mode.”

Politics
7:51 am
Wed May 2, 2012

The week in Michigan politics

Cedar Bend Drive Flickr

It's Wednesday, which means it's the morning that we speak with Michigan Radio's Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry about what's going on in state politics. This week: the Pontiac School District could be the next district under emergency management, Michigan Democratic Senator Carl Levin travels to Afghanistan along with President Obama, and why changes to the state's Personal Property Tax are moving so quickly through the state Senate.

News Roundup
8:13 am
Tue May 1, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines...

Morning News Roundup, Tuesday, May 1st, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Chrysler sales rise in April

Based on strong demand for Jeep and Chrysler brand cars and trucks, Chrysler says its U.S. auto sales rose in April by 20 percent. The Associated Press reports:

The company said it sold more than 141,000 vehicles, its best April in four years. It was the 25th straight month that Chrysler posted year-over-year sales gains. Chrysler says its sales were led by the 200 midsize sedan with a 61 percent increase over April of last year. Jeep Wrangler SUV sales were up 35 percent. All major automakers are scheduled to report April sales figures on Tuesday. Sales are expected to slow a bit from the blistering pace of February and March. Auto research site Edmunds.com expects sales to rise 2 percent over April of 2011 to nearly 1.2 million cars and trucks.

Review team to Pontiac school district

Pontiac’s Interim Superintendent Walter Burt says a state review team is coming to his school district to review the district’s finances, The Oakland Press reports. From the Press:

The state is expected to send a review team to the Pontiac school district as school officials struggle to meet the mandatory plan to eliminate a $24.5 million deficit. This step by the state brings the district closer to having a state emergency manager put in place to run district operations. The Michigan Department of Education has been withholding the April 20 state aid of $1.25 million because district officials have not so far been able to satisfy the first year’s part of the three-year deficit reduction plan… Once it reviews district books, the team would make recommendations to the Pontiac Board of Education, which would be expected to give a stamp of approval to carrying out those proposals.

Personal Property Tax rolls on in state Legislature

The effort to phase out Michigan’s tax on industrial equipment is expected to clear a major hurdle this week as a state Senate committee wraps up hearings on the plan. “A vote in the full Senate could come as soon as this week. Manufacturers say Michigan’s tax on industrial equipment, also known as the Personal Property Tax, is a drag on the state’s economic recovery. The Senate plan would eliminate the tax on industrial equipment by 2022. But local governments rely on that revenue to pay for everything from police and fire to parks and libraries. Communities with a lot of factories would be hit hardest by the loss of tax revenue. Local officials complain the phase-out plan does not guarantee they’ll recover all the lost revenue, which would force cuts to services or force local tax hikes to make up the difference,” Rick Pluta reports.

It's Just Politics
2:40 pm
Fri April 27, 2012

Size does matter... in emergency manager repeal

Fourteen point font…

That is what is standing in the way, apparently, of you getting to decide whether or not the state’s emergency manager law stays intact. As Rick Pluta, co-host of It's Just Politics, notes the whole emergency manager repeal was stopped in its tracks, "by an attorney with a pica ruler." And it, quite literally means, size does matter... at least when it comes to petition drives in Michigan.

The back-story

The Board of State Canvassers yesterday morning deadlocked along party lines (two Republicans vs. two Democrats) on whether to put a referendum challenging the state's controversial emergency manager law on the ballot. Though Stand Up for Democracy, the group pushing to put a repeal on the ballot, had gathered more than 200,000 valid signatures (40,000 more than what was actually needed), Republicans on the board pointed to the use of an incorrect type size on the petition itself as grounds for denying it access to the November ballot.

In this week's edition of It's Just Politics, Pluta and I take a look at the politics behind the board's decision... and, I should tell you:  it's a little unsettling.

"Hyper-partisan"

"There's this board, the Board of State Canvassers, it's bi-partisan: two Democrats and two Republicans. They get to decide whether or not a petition - in this case, the petition to repeal the state's emergency manager law - gets on the ballot. This board is not non-partisan. In fact, it is hyper-partisan. [These board members] are chosen by their parties to represent their party's interests," Pluta explains. But, it's not just their party's interests that these board members are representing... they're also representing their own paychecks.

Conflict of interest?

"Jeff Timmer, one of the Republicans on the Board of State Canvassers, [who voted against allowing the petition to go on the November ballot] works for The Sterling Corporation, the political consulting firm that was actually behind the challenge to this ballot's font-size," Pluta explains. "The opponents of the referendum, Citizens for  Fiscal Responsibility, is a Sterling client. Sterling and the Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility even share a business address."

But, Timmer isn't the only one with a possible conflict of interest. "There's a Democrat on the board, Julie Matuzak, she voted to to approve a different petition - one backed by unions. And her day job with the American Federation of Teachers was to run the signature-gathering for that petition drive. So, she voted to let a petition go forward when it was her job to get [that petition] on the ballot," Pluta explains.

Doomed from the beginning?

On the same day that the emergency manager petition was not approved, three other proposals were given the OK. It begs the question: was this emergency manager petition in trouble from the beginning? Was there anything that Stand Up for Democracy could have done to inoculate themselves?

"Well, actually, they could have gone to the election board before they even started to gather the signatures and make sure that they were in compliance [with the font size] but they decided against this. They said even if they had gotten the OK that it still would have seen legal challenges," Pluta explains.

"And, I have seen this before – this sort of paranoia that keeps people from going to the board first and then they get knee-capped like this after they’ve gone to the trouble and expense of gathering the signatures. Some campaign professionals I know are just smacking their heads over this. The attorney for Stand Up For Democracy says they didn’t want to get bogged down in legal challenges before they even got started. But, you know, two union-led petition drives that are just anathema to Republicans – including the one to preempt a right to work law – were recently approved," says Pluta.

What happens now?

So, here we are: for now, the state’s emergency manager law will not be on the ballot in November. But, the attorney for Stand Up for Democracy says they're going to appeal this decision to the state Court of Appeals. And, what will happen there? "More politics," Pluta explains. "People will be looking to see what appeals court  panel gets the case and whether it's made up of judges with Republican ties or judges with ties to Democrats," Pluta says.

And, wouldn't we all just be shocked - shocked, I say - if this repeal becomes politicized in the courts...

News Roundup
9:06 am
Thu April 26, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines...

Morning News Roundup, Thursday, April 26th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

EM Repeal on November Ballot?

State elections officials say the campaign to reverse Michigan’s emergency manager law appears to have gathered enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot. But, the petition drive still faces at least one more challenge. Rick Pluta reports:

About 161,000 petition signatures were required. The state Bureau of Elections says the group Stand Up For Democracy has gathered more than 203,000 signatures and that’s plenty more names than they needed to qualify for the ballot. But opponents of the referendum drive say they will challenge the petition for technical violations of the law that specifies the size of the type used on petitions.  An evenly divided, bipartisan state elections board may reject the petitions on those grounds, or it could rule the campaign was still in substantial compliance of the law. Either way, the losers are very likely to take their grievance to the Michigan Court of Appeals to decide the fate of the ballot question.

Foreclosure Rates

Most Michigan cities saw their home foreclosure rates tumble during the first quarter of the year. One analyst says that might signal a trend for the rest of 2012. “Home foreclosure filings dropped between 20% and 30% in Detroit, Kalamazoo, Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids during the first three months of the year. That's compared to the first quarter of 2011, according to Realty Trac.  Lansing was the only Michigan city on Realty Trac’s list to see an increase in home foreclosure filings between January and March,” Steve Carmody reports.

Michigan Wildfire

Officials say a wildfire in the northern Lower Peninsula has burned at least 1,500 acres and forced the evacuation of about 50 homes, the Associated Press reports. From the AP:

WWTV/WWUP reports the fire burned near Mack Lake in Oscoda County's Mentor Township. The U.S. Forest Service says the fire was about 90 percent contained as of Thursday morning. There were no reports of injuries or structures being burned. An American Red Cross shelter was set up in the nearby community of Mio. Officials say rain was helping firefighting efforts. The fire is in the area of the Huron National Forest… The Oscoda County sheriff's department says the evacuated homes include some small subdivisions and most of them are seasonal.

News Roundup
8:29 am
Wed April 25, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines...

Morning News Roundup, Wednesday, April 25th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Gov. Snyder to Hold Online Town Hall

Governor Snyder is set to hold another virtual town hall meeting this afternoon in Lansing. Questions can be posted to the governor’s website, to his Facebook page www.facebook.com/rickformichigan or on twitter by sending messages to @OneToughNerd and using the hashtag #AskGovSnyder. The Governor last held a town hall meeting in March to discuss Detroit's financial crisis. You can watch the town hall, beginning this afternoon at 12:15 p.m., at www.livestream.com/snyderlive.

Residents Question Lansing Budget

City residents are questioning how Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero plans to spend money from a recent property tax hike. Steve Carmody reports:

The tax hike was approved last year. Many voters expected the money would be spent to hire back dozens of police officers and firefighters laid off in recent years. But Mayor Bernero's plan calls for bringing back just seven public safety officers. Bernero says he’d like to hire more cops, but the city can’t afford it. Some Lansing city council members complain the mayor wants to spend money on rehabbing a building for the police department. That's money they say could be spent hiring police officers. The city council has until the middle of May to approve or change the mayor’s budget proposal.

Federal Money for MSU’s Rare Isotope Project

Michigan’s Democratic Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow say a Senate subcommittee has significantly increased the recommended annual funding for a planned $600 million physics research facility at Michigan State University, the Associated Press reports. From the AP:

The Michigan Democrats said Tuesday that the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water has budgeted $30 million in the 2013 fiscal year for the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams. That's up from $22 million that President Barack Obama recommended Feb. 13 in his budget proposal. About $55 million in funding was stipulated by the original agreement. Michigan State won a national competition to land the project in December 2008, and design work is under way. Levin and Stabenow say construction of the facility will create about 5,000 construction jobs, with 400 permanent jobs after completion.

Politics
7:42 am
Wed April 25, 2012

The week in Michigan politics

This week we take a look at the politics behind Detroit's financial crisis
JS Fauxtaugraphy Flickr

Every Wednesday, we talk with Michigan Radio's Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry about the week in state politics. This morning we take a deeper look at the politics behind Detroit's financial crisis. Mayor Dave Bing's office presented the Detroit City Council with an austere budget this week that would cut some 2500 city jobs and slash $250 million from the city's budget. We ask: will such a drastic budget actually get passed by the July 1st deadline?

News Roundup
8:28 am
Tue April 24, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines...

Morning News Roundup, Tuesday, April 24th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Flint EM Presents Budget

Next year, the city of Flint will charge residents higher fees in exchange for less services. The budget plan unveiled last night was greeted with anger from city residents and city council members. Steve Carmody reports:

The Flint city budget plan calls for trimming 20 percent of city government workers from the payroll... The plan also raises city sewer and lighting fees. The average property owner will pay an additional $200 in city fees in fiscal year 2013. Emergency manager Michael Brown says the spending cuts and fee hikes are needed to close a $25 million gap in next year’s budget. The city of Flint also wants the state to let it sell $18 million in bonds to pay off the city’s past debt. Brown says he hopes to hear back from the state on the fiscal stabilization bond request sometime next month. Brown says there’s no other way for Flint to close out the debt that the city’s accrued over the past two years.

Detroit Light Rail

A group with plans to build a privately funded light rail line in Detroit says it has the money it needs to construct it, and to run it for ten years. Backers laid out their case in a feasibility study submitted to the federal government. “The M-1 rail line would run along a three-mile stretch of Woodward Avenue in Detroit. Supporters say it’s an important project – especially at a time when the city of Detroit is cutting back dramatically on its spending. The project was nearly derailed late last year – after Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and Governor Rick Snyder pulled their support in favor of a rapid bus system. The mayor and governor now say they think both projects should move forward... Construction is expected to begin in early 2013, and be completed in 2015,” Sarah Hulett reports.

More Options to Stop Carp

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has added three options to a list of possible measures for preventing Asian carp and other invasive species from entering the Great Lakes from the Mississippi River, the Associated Press reports. From the AP:

In December, the corps released a draft report suggesting methods such as overfishing, ultraviolet light, water guns and introducing native predators in Chicago-area rivers and canals that link the two massive aquatic systems. A final version issued last week also raised the possibility of freezing or drying sections of the waterways, or zapping organisms with carbon dioxide pellets. Next, the corps will decide which options merit further consideration. The report is part of a series as officials develop a strategy for halting species invasions of the Great Lakes, possibly including permanent separation of the two drainage basins.

Politics
7:18 am
Tue April 24, 2012

Gov. Snyder set to hold online town hall tomorrow afternoon

Photo courtesy of the Snyder Administration

Governor Rick Snyder is scheduled to hold an online town hall meeting tomorrow afternoon at 12:15 p.m. The Associated Press reports:

The event will be streamed live at www.livestream.com/snyderlive . Questions can be submitted by calling 517-335-7858, posting a question at www.michigan.gov/townhall or sending a Twitter message to (at)onetoughnerd using the hashtag (hash)AskGovSnyder. Snyder spokeswoman Geralyn Lasher says the Republican governor will host the town hall meeting for about 45 minutes.

The Governor last held a town hall meeting in March to discuss Detroit's financial crisis. Meanwhile, in a speech to business leaders yesterday, the Governor said that he wants to see a stronger sense of urgency for action in Detroit. Rick Pluta reports:

Snyder’s vision includes Detroit being a manufacturing center that exports goods across the world; and a welcoming place for immigrants. He said the city also needs to reverse the trend of young families fleeing the city. Snyder said the two groups that left Detroit in the greatest numbers over the past decade were adults aged 25 to 29, and children between five and nine. The governor said progress is being made, but he wants to see a greater sense of urgency. The governor said municipal bankruptcy is still not out of the question for Detroit.

News Roundup
8:28 am
Mon April 23, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines...

Morning News Roundup, Monday, April 23rd, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Statewide Education Conference

State officials and educators will gather today in East Lansing for the 17th annual Governor’s Education Summit. “Last year, Governor Rick Snyder called for an overhaul in how students are educated. This year, organizers say they’ll examine ways to build an education system that begins with pre-school and continues to college or post-secondary job training,” Rick Pluta reports. Lt. Gov. Brian Calley will address the conference this morning.

Budgeting Detroit

Detroit’s budget process gets started in earnest this week. Sarah Cwiek reports:

The Detroit City Council will dig into a detailed version of Mayor Dave Bing’s proposed budget for the first time today. Everyone acknowledges it will be a painful, multi-year process of cutting city spending – as outlined in Detroit’s consent agreement with the state. State and city officials have said Detroit needs to focus on delivering its “core services” effectively – and slashing or even ending most others. The proposed budget would eliminate the city’s health, human services, and workforce development departments.

Frost Damage to Cherry Crops

Northern Michigan's tart cherry growers are starting to report serious damage from a hard freeze that followed a late-winter heat wave, the Associated Press reports. From the AP:

A week-long hot spell in mid-March triggered widespread budding well ahead of normal. Then typical cold weather returned, with temperatures dipping into the 20s on the night of March 25th. Longtime Leelanau County fruit farmer Dave Alpers has 550 acres of tart cherries and 100 acres of sweet cherries in Leland and Suttons Bay townships, about 15 miles north of Traverse City. He tells the Traverse City Record-Eagle that he's finding 80 to 90 percent of the buds on the area's tart cherries have been killed, as have about 40 to 60 percent of the apple buds. The northwestern Lower Peninsula produces about four-fifths of U.S. tart cherries.

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