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

The Environment Report
7:54 am
Thu March 29, 2012

Michigan Sen. Stabenow: We need to move as quickly as possible to stop the Asian Carp

Michigan Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow says we need to move quickly to stop the threat of the Asian Carp on the Great Lakes' eco-system
Kate.Gardner Flickr

By now, you’ve probably heard all about the Asian Carp.

The invasive species is making its way up the Mississippi River and there’s concern that if the fish are able to get into the Great Lakes that they could drastically change the waters’ eco-system.

Michigan Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow and Michigan Republican Congressman Dave Camp introduced the Stop the Asian Carp Act last year. The legislation required the Army Corps of Engineers to create a plan to permanently separate the Mississippi River and Lake Michigan.

Stopping the Carp

I spoke with Senator Stabenow this week and asked her where things stand with the Army Corps of Engineers’ plan. “The Army Corps of Engineers is working on a plan to give us specific recommendations on how to separate the waters… The problem is they say they won’t have this done until 2015. And, so, what we’re trying to do is push them to get this done much quicker,” Stabenow explains.

The Mississippi River: Not the only entry point for the Carp

A lot of attention has been paid to the Mississippi River as the main entry point where the Carp could get into the Great Lakes. But, Stabenow explains, “We also, now, are looking more broadly than just the Illinois River and the Mississippi River going into Lake Michigan. We’ve found that there have been some fish seen going across Indiana – in the Wabash River. At certain times, during the year, it connects to the Maumee River in Ohio and then actually goes into Lake Erie. And, so, this is a real challenge for us. There is, I believe, nineteen different tributaries and ways to get into the Great Lakes – that’s my biggest worry.”

Chicago shipping interests

Recently, we’ve been hearing more about the idea of permanently separating the waterways rather than a temporary solution. “I believe that we ought to be closing the [Chicago] locks until we get to a permanent solution. But, there is a lot of pushback from Illinois and Chicago,” Stabenow says. Those who work in commercial shipping in Chicago are against the idea of closing the locks. They say it would hurt their multi-million dollar business interests. “Personally, I’d say the other side’s interests are – not that we don’t respect them – but they’re small in terms of economic impact compared to what could happen having the fish go into the Great Lakes.

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News Roundup
8:34 am
Wed March 28, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news...

Morning News Roundup, Wednesday, March 28th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Snyder to Hold Town hall Meeting

Governor Snyder will be part of a town hall meeting today in Detroit to talk about the city’s finances. “The meeting comes as state and city leaders are trying to finalize a deal to resolve major cash flow problems. A state review team has determined Detroit is in “severe financial stress”. The city’s deficit is nearly $200 million. Snyder says he’s trying to be transparent about the financial situation. He’s expected to go over the facts at the town hall meeting. He’ll also field questions and probably some criticism from the audience,” Lindsey Smith reports.

State Senate to Take Up Helmet Law

The Michigan Senate is expected to vote tomorrow on a measure to repeal the state’s motorcycle helmet law – and send it to Governor Snyder’s desk, Rick Pluta reports. From Pluta:

The measure was stalled because Governor Snyder wants the helmet law to be part of a larger discussion on finding savings in Michigan’s no-fault insurance system. State Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville said he wants to get the law on the books in time for the new motorcycle riding season. Governor Snyder has not said what he would do if a helmet law repeal reaches his desk. Supporters of the helmet law say it saves lives and prevents expensive-to-treat head injuries.

Case Against Militia Group Dismissed

A judge dismissed key charges yesterday against members of a Michigan militia who were accused of plotting war against the government, the Associated Press reports. From the AP:

The decision is an embarrassment for the government, which secretly planted an informant and an FBI agent inside the Hutaree militia and claimed members were armed for war in rural southern Michigan. Detroit federal Judge Victoria Roberts made her decision five days after prosecutors rested their case. Her decision affects all seven militia members who've been on trial since Feb. 13. Only weapons charges remain against two of the defendants.

Politics
7:48 am
Wed March 28, 2012

The week in Michigan politics

Ifmuth Flickr

Every Wednesday, Michigan Radio's Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry takes a look at the week in state politics. On tap for this morning: the latest in Detroit's financial situation and what the arguments in front of the U.S. Supreme Court over the Affordable Care Act could mean for Michigan.

Politics
7:03 am
Tue March 27, 2012

Shenanigans in Oakland County: One of the best political shows in Michigan

Matthileo Capitol Flickr

Update 3/27/2012:

"The Michigan Supreme Court - in a decision that breaks along party-lines -  has upheld a state law that will let Republicans on the Oakland County Commission redraw their district lines. The Supreme Court says the law complies with the state constitution, regardless of whether it was designed to give one party a political advantage. The Supreme Court's three Democrats dissented from the decision," Rick Pluta reports.

Original Post 3/23/2012:

This week, Rick Pluta, Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network, and I decided to take a look at the political shenanigans playing out in Oakland County.

The Back-story

“There is a fight between Oakland County politicians – Democrats versus Republicans. It’s about the murky, dirty, filthy process of drawing new district lines for politicians to run in. In Oakland County, [the redrawing] is done by a bi-partisan panel. In this case, it’s a panel that has more Democrats than Republicans and the Democrats drew a map that the Republicans didn’t like,” Pluta explains.

So, some Republican lawmakers from Oakland County decided to have the state legislature change the redrawing rules. They devised a measure to allow the County Commission, which is controlled by Republicans, to redraw the lines. The measure was then passed by the state’s Republican-controlled House and Senate and signed into law by Governor Rick Snyder.

Democrats cried foul. They challenged the new law and, last month, Ingham County Circuit Judge William Collette overturned it. Collette ruled the law violated the Michigan Constitution and that the governor and the Legislature illegally interfered in a local political question.

The question over the legality of the law made its way to the state’s highest court this week. On Wednesday, the Michigan Supreme Court heard arguments from both sides.

Politically-motivated maps

Republicans all along contended that the reason for the new law was to save taxpayers money. Democrats, and many pundits, said it was pure politics: that the GOP changed the rules so that Republican dominance on the County Board wouldn’t be challenged. But, this kind of claim is always hard to prove. Hard to prove… unless you have emails.

Busted: GOP emails released

This week, emails between Republican Oakland County officials and GOP lawmakers were released after the Oakland County Democratic Party filed a Freedom of Information Act. The emails appear to show, “officials in the offices of Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson’s office and state Representatives – primarily Rep. Eileen Kowall – basically plotting and trying to find a rationale to kick this redistricting process back over to the County Commission where Republicans would control it,” Pluta explains.

‘It’s gonna be ugly’

In one email, Rep. Kowall wrote, “I guess it would also help to have (a) legitimate explanation as to why we waited until now, after redistricting plans have been submitted, to take these bills up.” She also wrote, “The quicker things move the better, ’cause it’s gonna be ugly.”

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News Roundup
8:44 am
Mon March 26, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines...

Morning News Roundup, Monday, March 26th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Healthcare Overhaul

Michigan is one of 26 states challenging the federal Affordable Care Act in arguments that begin today before the U-S Supreme Court. Meanwhile, “there is a fight in the Michigan Legislature over moving ahead with the internet exchanges required by the law to help people find affordable insurance. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, a Republican, says the state should wait for a ruling. Governor Rick Snyder says exactly the opposite. He says the state can’t afford to wait – that a delay could cost federal dollars and doom Michigan’s ability to adopt its own system if the federal healthcare law is upheld,” Rick Pluta reports.

Lansing Budget

Lansing mayor Virg Bernero will tell the city council tonight how he plans to cut nearly $5 million to balance his city’s budget. Steve Carmody reports:

Last fall, the mayor’s office was predicting the city might be facing up to a $15 million shortfall. Mayor Bernero says voter approval of a special public safety millage, lower health care costs and more state revenue sharing money than expected has improved Lansing’s revenue picture. However, Bernero says painful cuts are still needed to balance the city’s budget. Bernero says without additional concessions from the city’s unions Lansing will have to institute employee furlough days and possibly layoffs of some non-public safety employees.

MI SUPCO

The Michigan Supreme Court says a lawsuit challenging health insurance for the domestic partners of state employees won't be placed on a fast track, the Associated Press reports. From the AP:

The court on Friday declined to take the case away from the Michigan appeals court. The lone dissenter was Justice Stephen Markman, who says it's an important matter that deserves "expedited consideration" from the Supreme Court. Attorney General Bill Schuette is challenging the Civil Service Commission's decision to extend benefits to domestic partners or other unrelated adults living with some state employees. Lawmakers tried to overturn it but didn't have enough votes last year.

News Roundup
8:29 am
Fri March 23, 2012

This morning's news headlines in Michigan

Morning News Roundup, Friday, March 23rd, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Concealed Weapons Changes?

Under a new proposal in the state Senate, people with concealed weapon permits could carry handguns in more places if they get additional training. “A bill that would overhaul parts of the state's concealed weapons law was approved Thursday by the Senate Natural Resources, Environment and Great Lakes Committee.The bill wouldn't eliminate "no carry" zones such as schools, stadiums and churches. But licensed carriers who get training beyond what's already required in state law could get exemptions that would allow them to carry guns in those zones,” the Associated Press reports.

LGBT Protections

Democratic state Senator Rebecca Warren is calling for an expansion of Michigan’s civil rights law to protect people who are gay, lesbian or transgender from discrimination. Rick Pluta reports:

Warren says expanding the civil rights law would send a message that Michigan is trying to attract creative workers and entrepreneurs. Warren says the legislation would have no effect on the amendment that outlaws same-sex marriage and civil unions in Michigan. She doubts her bill will clear the Legislature in this session, but she wants to make sure the issue doesn’t go dormant. She also wants the bill to serve as a counterpoint to another bill that would outlaw local gay rights ordinances like the ones on the books in 18 Michigan communities.

Spartans Are Out

Michigan State University is out. The Spartan’s men’s basketball team lost 57-44 last night in their NCAA Sweet 16 tournament game against Louisville. “Tough defense by Louisville led to the defeat,” NPR’s Mike Pesca explains. “Some couch and garbage fires were reported near Michigan State University,” after the game, the Associated Press notes. But, no injuries have been reported.

News Roundup
8:56 am
Thu March 22, 2012

In this morning's news...

Morning News Roundup: Thursday, March 22nd, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Financial Crisis in Detroit

The state review team looking at Detroit’s finances yesterday formally declared the city to be in “severe financial distress.” Sarah Cwiek reports:

This means the review team will recommend some kind of state intervention in Detroit—whether it’s a consent agreement outlining steps the city must take to get out of financial distress (and likely giving elected officials some greater powers to take them), or appointing an emergency manager for the city. But, a Judge has issued an injunction forbidding a consent agreement before March 29th. The review team’s deadline to make a recommendation is March 26th. The state is appealing the injunction. Arguments are slated for today in the Michigan Court of Appeals.

Oakland County Redistricting

A fight over drawing Oakland County commission districts has made its way up to the state Supreme Court. Rick Pluta reports:

The legal battle pits Democrats in Oakland County against Republicans in the Legislature and Governor Rick Snyder. The issue is a state law that will toss out Oakland County’s current county commission map that was drawn by a board led by Democrats. The state law will turn that job over to the Oakland County Commission, which has a GOP majority. Hundreds of e-mails to and from county officials that were made public appear to show partisan motives behind the law. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the law soon. The court has a slim Republican majority.

Crops Threatened

It’s been an unseasonably warm month and that could jeopardize the state’s fruit crops. “While it's not unusual to have warm spells in early spring, it is unusual is for temperatures to average 40 degrees higher than normal for several weeks,” Rina Miller reports. "This is pretty much unprecedented," Matthew Grieshop, assistant professor at Michigan State University says. "It was back in the early 40s that we last had weather like this, and based on our experience, it looks pretty grim for the fruit growers."

Politics
8:36 am
Thu March 22, 2012

The Week in State Politics

Contemplative Imaging Flickr

There sure was lots of news this week about Michigan's emergency manager law - from legal wrangling over how the Open Meetings Act affects how financial decisions are made to the reappointment of Flint's Mayor. Michigan Radio's Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry took a look this morning at the latest.

Politics
9:20 am
Sun March 18, 2012

A strained relationship? What a Detroit consent agreement means for Gov. Snyder and Mayor Bing

Detroit Skyline
Ifmuth Flickr

Every week, Rick Pluta, Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network, and I have been taking a look at the politics behind the state's news headlines. This week: we take a look at what a possible consent agreement for the city of Detroit means for the relationship between Governor Rick Snyder and Mayor Dave Bing.

Dexter tornado
9:30 am
Fri March 16, 2012

F-3 tornado destroys homes in Dexter (PHOTOS)

Tornado damage in Dexter, Michigan.
Zoe Clark Michigan Radio

Update 9:30 a.m.

The Associated Press reports more than 100 homes were severely damaged and 13 homes were destroyed in last night's F3 tornado in Dexter.

It appears people were warned in time.  Miraculously, there have been no reports of serious injuries or deaths.

From the Associated Press:

Initial estimates indicate the tornado that hit Dexter, northwest of Ann Arbor, Thursday evening was packing winds of around 135 mph, National Weather Service meteorologist Steven Freitag said Friday. He said it was on the ground for about a half hour and plowed a path about 10 miles long.

Dexter firefighter Dave Wisley told the Dexter Leader there are multiple gas leaks reported, but no fires have been reported.

The Red Cross reports officials are assessing affected neighborhoods this morning. 

Two shelters have been set up in the wake of last night's storms to provide health services, mental health services, food, water and basic needs.

  1. For those affected by the tornado in Dexter the shelter is at the Mill Creek Middle School in Dexter. The school is located at 7305 Dexter-Ann Arbor Rd.
  2. For those affected by flooding at the Park Place Apartments in Ann Arbor a second shelter in Ann Arbor has been set up. This shelter is at the Salvation Army at 100 Arbana Drive in Ann Arbor.

AnnArbor.com reports on power outages in Dexter:

An estimated 4,000 homes were without power this morning in Washtenaw County, most of them in the Dexter area.

Paul Ganz, regional manager for DTE Energy, said it was an "all-out call-out.''

"Dexter is a priority today,'' he said.

10:39 p.m.

Michigan Radio's Jennifer Guerra traveled to the Huron Farms neighborhood, where dozens of houses were damaged by the tornado: roofs torn off, siding blown into the street, whole walls missing.

Some houses were completely destroyed, reduced to nothing more than a heaping pile of wood.

Monica Waidley and her family were among the lucky ones. She says the tornado didn’t touch their house:

"We were in the basement watching things fly through the air out of our backdoor; peoples’ lives landing in our backyards, it was really scary."

The Waidleys were visiting their friend, Vicki Shieck, who also lives in the neighborhood. Shieck says she was "down in the basement, doing the tornado tuck" when the tornado hit. Her house was spared, with just a little bit of window and roof damage.

Shieck says the tornado "literally went kitty corner" between her and her neighbors' house, before it careened up the path and destroyed nearby houses.

Residents were seen leaving the neighborhood with suitcases, some carrying whatever valuables they could.

There have been no reports that anyone was injured or killed.

9:15 p.m.

A powerful tornado touched down in Dexter, Michigan at 5:33 p.m. Thursday evening.

The tornado demolished homes and damaged many others, uprooting trees and power lines.

It appears that no one was seriously injured or killed.

There were also reports of funnel clouds in Northfield Township and Saline, but trained spotters did not report any actual tornados.

Michigan Radio's Zoe Clark traveled to the scene and reported seeing homes with roofs and exterior walls stripped off. 

The Detroit Free Press reports that at least 50 homes are damaged:

...with roofs torn off, walls missing and interior rooms now exposed in Dexter. Debris litters the neighborhood. Insulation from houses float in large puddles in the streets and yard.

AnnArbor.com reports the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Department says so far, no deaths or serious injuries have been reported:

Police and rescuers are searching door to door to confirm that, spokesman Derrick Jackson said in an e-mailed message.

A shelter has been set up at Mill Creek School and people who need shelter can go there, he said. People who have power were advised to stay in their homes.

News Roundup
8:59 am
Tue March 13, 2012

In this morning's news headlines...

Brother O'Mara Flickr

Snyder to Outline Detroit Consent Agreement

Governor Snyder will outline a proposed consent agreement for the city of Detroit today. Sarah Cwiek reports:

Snyder and State Treasurer Andy Dillon, who leads the state review team looking at Detroit’s finances, have suggested a consent agreement for weeks. That measure could give the city’s elected officials broad powers similar to those of an emergency manager. City officials acknowledge that without some major action, Detroit will go broke in the next couple of months, with a $45-50 million shortfall expected by early summer. And it’s likely the only way to avoid emergency manager. Both Mayor Dave Bing and the City Council would have to sign off on a consent agreement.

Flint Finances

Michael Brown, Flint’s emergency manager, says he wants to borrow between $15 and $20 million to help pay for past city deficits. “Brown discussed the plans Monday at a meeting where Flint Mayor Dayne Walling also delivered a State of the City address. Brown says the city will pursue fiscal stabilization bonds while working to plug a projected $20 million gap between revenues and expenses in the 2013 budget. He says the city is meeting with municipal unions to discuss cost-cutting, but he expects the city's work force will shrink as it deals with the projected deficit,” the Associated Press reports.

Abortion Debate Continues in Lansing

The debate over abortion is expected to resume today at the state Capitol. Rick Pluta reports:

The state House is expected vote on measures to make it a crime to intimidate or coerce a woman into aborting a pregnancy. The legislation would create a new crime of coercing a woman to have an abortion against her will. It would cover anything from the threat of violence to refusing to pay child support or getting a woman fired from a job. No one is arguing in favor of allowing people to intimidate a woman into having an abortion. But opponents of the package say it should not single out as victims only women who are coerced into having an abortion. They say women who are threatened because they want to end a pregnancy should have the same protections.

Detroit
8:46 am
Tue March 13, 2012

What a consent agreement could mean for Detroit's financial crisis

We’ve known for awhile that Detroit’s finances are reaching a crisis point. It’s believed the city could run out of money within the next few months. News broke yesterday evening that the Snyder Administration will try to remedy the situation. Governor Snyder will lay out details of a proposed consent agreement to members of the Detroit City Council today. A consent agreement would give the city’s elected officials broad powers… similar to those of an emergency manager.

News Roundup
8:53 am
Mon March 12, 2012

In this morning's news...

Morning News Roundup, Monday, March 12th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

State Senate Takes up Autism Mandate

Measures on the state Senate calendar this week would require health plans to pay for autism treatments for children. “One bill would set up a fund to reimburse insurance companies for the costs of the treatments. Supporters say early treatment of autism helps children transition to healthy lives. But some supporters of the mandate say it does not go far enough. The autism insurance mandate has the support of Gov. Rick Snyder and Lt. Gov. Brian Calley – who has a daughter with autism,” Rick Pluta reports.

Detroit Financial Review

The state team that is reviewing Detroit’s finances has avoided a scheduled court date—and possible contempt of court--by disbanding a controversial sub-committee. Sarah Cwiek reports:

An Ingham County Circuit Court Judge had ordered the team to appear in court today. That same judge had earlier ruled the team must meet in public to comply with the state's Open Meetings Act. They did, but quickly formed a sub-committee that had planned to meet in private to “advise the committee of the possible statutory options for its recommendation" to Governor Snyder. But State Treasurer Andy Dillon, who leads the review team, says they decided not to push the issue. The team has already declared that “severe fiscal stress” exists in the city. Barring drastic changes or an unexpected influx of money, officials expect the city to run out cash before the end of the fiscal year. 

State of the City: Flint

Flint Mayor Dayne Walling is scheduled to deliver a State of the City address this evening. “The Flint Journal reports that Monday's remarks will be about 20 minutes shorter to accommodate the City Council meeting. Walling said his speech will be part of the meeting at City Hall. Council meetings were cut to once each month by emergency manager Michael Brown. Brown is to talk about Flint's finances during the meeting. He is a former acting mayor of the city and was appointed in November by Gov. Rick Snyder,” the Associated Press reports.

Politics
7:19 pm
Fri March 9, 2012

Michigan primary politics: "Why can't I quit you?"

thetoad flickr

On Fridays Rick Pluta and I have been taking a look at politics in the state. But, before we could really get into our main topic of the week – state ballot proposals - we had a confession to make: We’re having a hard time getting over the Michigan primary. It might even be fair to say that we’re slightly obsessed. “Oh, primary, why can’t I quit you?” Pluta asked. It’s just too tough to quit.

Remnants of a primary

Yes, we know. The primary was almost two weeks ago. But a mere ten days can’t keep us from a good news story. “We saw earlier this week a Santorum campaign organizer in the state, John Yob – the Yob name is a venerable one in Michigan Republican politics – trying to organize a rally at the state party headquarters to, figuratively, at least, pound on the doors and demand justice for an even division of the primary delegates,” Pluta explains. You can find last week’s conversation over so-called “dele-gate” here.

The rally fizzles

Pluta went to report on the rally for Michigan Radio but, “very few people showed up… very, very few people.” Nevertheless, Pluta notes, “that it does raise the prospect of a convention fight - a floor fight - that would really be kind of an intra-party referendum on the leadership of the state GOP and a fight over who sits at the table when big decisions are made.” (Just in case you can’t get enough intra-party squabbles – and, if that’s the case you get major ‘political junkie’ points – you can find another darn good intra-party fight story here).

Now onto the feature presentation: Ballot proposals

Ok, we got the Michigan presidential primary out of our systems – at least for this week – and got to talking about the topic we had initially planned: a look at the various ballot proposals that were unveiled this week at the Capital. We saw a petition drive launched to create accountability in election spending. “Basically to require corporations to disclose when they spend money on their own political communication, primarily television advertising,” Pluta explains.

Also unveiled was a labor-rights ballot proposal. This got us to thinking about the politics behind ballot proposals. Sure, the folks behind these proposals are passionate about their causes and want their laws passed but there’s also the fact that ballot proposals can get out the vote in November.

The infamous Rovian-strategy

That would be Karl Rove, the so-called mastermind behind President George W. Bush’s reelection in 2004. “A lot of people believed that a Republican strategy to put a lot of wedge issues – social questions – on statewide ballots succeeded in drawing out conservative Evangelical voters to the benefit of Republican candidates. And, what people are seeing now with these ballot proposals, especially the union-rights ballot proposal, is an effort to [replicate] that,” Pluta explains.

Read more
News Roundup
8:51 am
Fri March 9, 2012

In this morning's news...

Morning News Roundup, Friday, March 9th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Corporations to Disclose Political Spending?

A ballot campaign is trying to amend the state constitution to require businesses to tell the public when they run their own political ads.  A petition drive will try to put the question to voters on the November ballot. Rick Pluta reports:

The amendment takes aim at the 2010 Citizens United U.S. Supreme Court decision that allows unlimited political expenditures by corporations as a long as they are not coordinated with a candidate’s campaign. The amendment would require businesses to report political expenditures within 24 hours and identify themselves on their ads. Unions are specifically excluded. Benson says labor organizations are bound by other disclosure laws.

“Occupy” Homes

A group of anti-foreclosure activists says Chase bank continues to wrongly foreclose on people’s homes. And as part of the “Occupy our Homes” movement, they plan to fight for eight Metro Detroit homeowners they say are victims. “Chase bank and other mortgage lenders signed a consent agreement with the federal government in the wake of the national foreclosure crisis. The group says they want Chase to work with the homeowners—but they’ll physically defend the home from foreclosure if necessary. They’re also taking up the case of seven other families across Metro Detroit,” Sarah Cwiek reports.

Detroit Corruption

Detroit businessman Bobby Ferguson, a friend of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, obtained more than $55 million through extortion and other illegal conduct, according to federal records. “The allegations surfaced in a seizure warrant affidavit that was unsealed Thursday… The affidavit provides the most detailed account to date of the alleged trail running through the racketeering conspiracy case against Ferguson and Kilpatrick. It says Ferguson spent a fraction of the cash on his kids' college education, his girlfriend and construction equipment. The 43-year-old Ferguson is awaiting trial in separate federal corruption and bid-rigging cases,” the Associated Press reports.

News Roundup
8:02 am
Thu March 8, 2012

In this morning's news...

Morning News Roundup, Thursday, March 8th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Snyder on Public Safety

Governor Rick Snyder delivered an address on public safety yesterday in Flint. Rick Pluta reports:

The governor presented his plan to fight high crime rates in Michigan cities in front of a room filled with police officers, prosecutors, and other local government officials. The plan has 34 separate initiatives and would cost tens of millions of dollars. Governor Snyder wants to hire and train 180 new state troopers to work in high-crime cities, put more scientists in crime labs, and place parole officers in local police departments. But the governor says he also wants to link welfare benefits to school attendance, attack urban blight, and start up a 15 million dollar urban jobs program. The governor says he will submit a budget request to the Legislature within two weeks.

Bing Delivers State of the City Address

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing delivered his third State of the City address last night. Sarah Cwiek reports:

Bing gave few details about how he’ll deal with the city’s most immediate threat: running out of cash. Bing said both he and Governor Snyder “agree that an emergency manager is not the best option” for Detroit. Bing has hammered out tentative cost-saving agreements with the city’s major unions. But they have yet to be ratified by members. The state could grant Detroit’s elected officials powers to impose new contracts and make other sweeping changes through a consent agreement. That’s seen as an increasingly likely option for the state to help Detroit get through its cash crunch.

State’s Unemployment Rate Drops

The state’s unemployment rate is continuing to drop. The state’s seasonally unadjusted rate was 9 percent in January. “During the past year, Michigan’s unemployment rate is down nearly two full percentage points. The state’s unemployment rate is now at its lowest mark since September 2008.  It’s also about five percentage points lower than at the height of the recession in 2009. Manufacturing and Professional services saw the biggest jump in new hires,” Steve Carmody reports.

News Roundup
9:01 am
Wed March 7, 2012

In this morning's news...

Morning News Roundup, Wednesday, March 7th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Bing to Address Detroit

Mayor Dave Bing is set to deliver his State of the City address this evening at the Erma Henderson Auditorium at the Detroit City Hall. “Bing will deliver his third State of the City address as he, the City Council and union leaders seek fiscal answers to keep the state from appointing an emergency manager… A preliminary review from the state showed a nearly $200 million general fund deficit for 2011. A review team is looking over the city's books to determine if a financial emergency exists, a step that could lead to Gov. Rick Snyder appointing an emergency manager,” the Associated Press reports.

Anti “Right to Work” Ballot Drive Underway

Unions and progressive groups have launched a ballot drive as a push back against what they say is a wave of anti-labor measures from Republicans in Lansing. Rick Pluta reports:

The campaign wants to put a proposed amendment to the state constitution on the November ballot. It would prohibit Michigan from becoming a "right-to-work" state that allows employees to opt out of paying union dues. It would also pre-empt a host of other laws that would restrict union organizing and fundraising. Opponents of the ballot drive said it’s motivated more by a desire of union leaders to drive voter turnout in November than to guarantee workers’ rights. Union and progressive groups launched the ballot drive today. They have until July 9 to collect enough signatures of registered voters to qualify for the November ballot.

Prop 2 Arguments Begin Today

The U.S. Circuit Court in Cincinnati will hear arguments today over Michigan’s constitutional amendment that bars state universities from considering race in college admissions."Michigan voters overwhelmingly approved ‘Proposition 2’ in 2006. Mark Rosenbaum is with the American Civil Liberties Union. He says Prop 2 violates the U.S. Constitution by forbidding the consideration of race, while other factors like whether a college applicant’s parent is an alumnus, are still permitted. Last year, a federal appellate court ruled against Prop 2,” Steve Carmody reports. The case could eventually end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Politics
7:44 am
Wed March 7, 2012

The Week in State Politics

Allieosmar Flickr

Governor Snyder is set to deliver an address on public safety in Flint today. Detroit, Flint, Pontiac and Saginaw are among the country's top 10 most violent cities. Christina Shockley spoke with Michigan Radio's political analyst Jack Lessenberry about what we're likely to hear from the Governor later this morning.

Newsmaker Interviews
5:38 pm
Tue March 6, 2012

Michigan State Police seek to combat rising crime

Colonel Kriste Etue, Director of the Michigan State Police

The FBI ranks Detroit, Flint, Pontiac and Saginaw among the ten American cities with the highest violent crime rates.

Kriste Etue is the Director of the Michigan State Police.  She says the lack of good jobs and the decline of police officers in the state has an impact on crime.

"The state of Michigan has lost nearly 3,400 police officers, so I’m sure that has some impact on the crime in our various cities."

The Michigan State Police is reaching out to returning veterans to join the state police force.

Read more
News Roundup
8:48 am
Tue March 6, 2012

In this morning's news...

Morning News Roundup, Tuesday, March 6th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Union Bargaining Rights

Unions and progressive groups plan to unveil a ballot campaign later today to preempt efforts to pass a right-to-work law in Michigan. “The so-called Protect Our Jobs campaign would block efforts to enact a right-to-work law that would forbid compulsory union dues as a condition of employment. It would also preempt about 80 measures pending before the Legislature that would enact restrictions on unions and union organizing. The campaign would do that by having voters approve an amendment to the state constitution. To get on the ballot, the campaign will have to collect more 323,000 signatures of registered voters in a six month window," Rick Pluta reports.

Snyder to Deliver Public Safety Address

Governor Snyder will deliver an address on public safety in Flint tomorrow. The Associated Press reports:

Snyder plans to call for $4.5 million to reopen the Flint city lockup to free space in the Genesee County Jail. Flint emergency manager Michael Brown has said opening the lockup is important because criminals are "laughing at the system." Snyder says it's unacceptable that Flint, Detroit, Pontiac and Saginaw rank among the nation's top 10 in violent crime rates for cities with at least 50,000 people. His plan's expected to include $15 million for what he has called law enforcement "enhancements." He also says changes must include crime prevention and criminal justice reforms.

Home Prices Tick Up

After years of rollercoaster prices, Michigan home prices may finally be stabilizing. Steve Carmody reports:

Alex Villacorta is with Clear Capitol. He says an improving job picture, stronger consumer confidence and more investors buying cheap homes are all contributing to a more stable real estate market. But as with all things real estate, 'Location…location…location' is what matters. Villacorta says Grand Rapids’ home sale prices are up about six percent compared with a year ago, while home prices in Lansing and Flint continue to decline.

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