Politics & Government
7:56 am
Wed March 27, 2013

The week in Michigan politics: Affirmative action, meningitis and Detroit EM

Week in Michigan politics interview for 3/27/13

In this week in Michigan politics, Jack Lessenberry and Christina Shockley discuss Michigan’s affirmative action case being taken up in the U.S. Supreme Court, how Attorney General Bill Schuette wants an in-depth investigation into the meningitis outbreak, and what Kevyn Orr has done in his first week as emergency manager for Detroit.

U.S. Supreme Court takes up Michigan affirmative action case

The U.S. Supreme Court is going to review the state of Michigan’s ban on affirmative action in university admissions. Oral arguments are expected in the fall. Michigan's Attorney General Bill Schuette will defend the amendment.

Lessenberry explained that 10 years ago the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the University of Michigan could use race as a factor in admissions in a case that involved the law school. However, the Supreme Court said  a “point system” the University of Michigan used for undergraduate admissions was unconstitutional. Voter’s then passed a constitutional amendment banning affirmative action all together.

Attorney General wants to investigate meningitis outbreak

Attorney General Bill Schuette wants a grand jury to investigate the meningitis outbreak linked to tainted steroid injections from a Massachusetts pharmacy. More than a dozen people have died in Michigan alone, and hundreds of people have gotten sick.

The first illnesses turned up months ago and Shockley wondered why Schuette would be addressing the issue now.

Lessenberry says, "There are some, including Senate minority leader Gretchen Whitmer, who say that the Attorney General is kind of hypocritical on all this because when he was in the state Senate, a long time ago, he sponsored an exemption, legislation rather, that exempted drug companies from liability in civil proceedings in cases like this."

Detroit EM restores salaries to city council

The state's new emergency manager law and right to work law goes into effect this week and Kevyn Orr, the emergency manager for Detroit began his first week on the job Monday.

His first decision was to continue paying City Council Members and Mayor Dave Bing. Under the new law, salaries and benefits are automatically eliminated for all elected officials in cities where emergency managers are appointed.  Only the emergency manager can restore them.

Lessenberry says, "He didn't have to do that, and a lot of cities where emergency managers have taken over they have cut or entirely eliminated their pay."

Lessenberry says the salaries add up to around $1 million.

"It's a drop in the bucket, and if it causes these people to be cooperative and to have a team-building mindset, it may well be worth it."