Politics & Government
11:41 am
Wed November 13, 2013

Talking about politics in Michigan: Belle Isle, court moves, wolf hunt, and felons on Flint council

Week in Michigan politics interview for 11/13/13

Belle Isle will be leased to the state

Yesterday a Michigan board approved leasing Detroit's Belle Isle park to the state. Under the agreement, the city will maintain ownership of the park, and the state will lease it for 30 years. The plan will save Detroit $6 million annually in maintenance costs. Detroit City Council, and Mayor Elect Mike Duggan are against the plan.

Lessenberry says the tension from city government stems from an issue of a loss of local control.

“The whole idea of losing control of any of the city’s so called jewels to the state,” Lessenberry says. “But in fact it is becoming a state park. The state has pledged to put millions of dollars in to fix it up and not only will the city save money, it will free up 22 policemen for duty elsewhere in the city.”

Snyder signed a controversial bill

Governor Rick Snyder has signed a bill that will shake up pending litigation against the state, and legal challenges to some of his administration’s most controversial policies. The measure moves the Michigan Court of Claims out of the Ingham County circuit. Instead, those cases will be handled by judges on the state Court of Appeals.

Lessenberry says this move is controversial because Ingham County is mostly Democratic and cases will now be decided by a court with a republican majority.

“This sort of further dimishes governor Snyder’s claim to be a moderate,” Lessenberry says.

Friday marks the first day of Michigan's wolf hunt

This is the first time there’s been a hunt since the gray wolf was taken off the federal endangered species list.

We heard news that State Senator Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba), who led a campaign for a wolf hunt, used a fictional story to highlight the need for a hunt.

Lesenberry says there have been a lot of fictional stories to make a case for a wolf hunt in the state, including stories that wolves were staring at people through people’s windows and not going away, or wolves appearing outside a daycare center shortly after the children were outside playing.  

But controversy over the wolf hunt is not over. Wolf hunt opponents are circulating petitions to challenge the state law authorizing the hunt. They hope to put the issue on the ballot in November 2014.  

Lessenberry says opponents don’t want recently endangered animals killed.

“As recently as 1989 there were only three known wolves in the entire upper peninsula, now that’s about 643,” Lessenberry says. “But whether any of them should be hunted is terribly controversial.”

Flint swore in its newly elected city council this week

The council includes two ex-convicts, including one who served 19 years in prison for murder.

Lessenberry says the results of the election was a journalism scandal.

“Basically the Flint Journal did not report that one of the candidates who defeated an incumbent had done 19 years in prison for murder. Another one was convicted of felonious assault and two women who had been on council had bankruptcies,” Lessenberry says. “It doesn’t say a lot about the voters because they didn’t know about this.”

Lessenberry says the results of the election are another blow to Flint.

“[Flint is] trying to get the state to let control revert to the locally elected government and it’s kind of harder to make a case for that when you’ve got two felons on the city council.”