Politics & Government
8:38 am
Wed March 13, 2013

What's going on this week? Kilpatrick guilty, Detroit argues against EM, right to work deadline

The Capitol in Lansing.
Lester Graham Michigan Radio

Week in Michigan politics interview for 3/13/13

This week in Michigan politics, Jack Lessenberry and Christina Shockley discuss the trial of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, the debate between the Detroit City Council and Governor Snyder over an impending emergency manager appointment in Detroit, and how unions are trying to get new contracts in place before the new right to work law takes affect later this month.

To hear their discussion, click on the audio above.

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Politics & Government
7:48 am
Wed March 13, 2013

In this morning's news: Detroit City Council appeal, sex offender registry, drug tests for welfare

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Detroit Mayor Bing says appeal unlikely to halt an EM

"Detroit Mayor Dave Bing says the City Council's appeal of Gov. Rick Snyder's determination that there's no plan to solve Detroit's financial emergency is unlikely to halt an emergency manager's appointment. Bing says he endorses the council's assertions that a viable restructuring plan is in place, and he released a progress report on the plan Tuesday," the Associated Press reports.

Governor Snyder signs bill to add more people to sex offender registry

"More people will be added to Michigan's public sex offender registry under a bill signed by Gov. Rick Snyder.  The bill signed Tuesday will require people convicted of a single Tier I offense for some crimes involving minors to be placed on the online registry. Offenses that qualify include possessing child pornography and surveillance of a minor," the Associated Press reports.

Bill would require welfare recipients to pass drug tests

"Michigan lawmakers are planning to consider a bill that would require welfare applicants and recipients to pass drug tests. [The] legislation being considered . . .  would establish a program of suspicion-based substance abuse screening and testing for Family Independence Program applicants and recipients who are at least 18 years old," the Associated Press reports.

Politics & Government
7:42 am
Tue March 12, 2013

In this morning's news: Kilpatrick guilty, the fate of an emergency financial manager for Detroit

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Kilpatrick found guilty on public corruption case

"Former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his longtime friend Bobby Ferguson are in prison. The two men were taken into custody after a federal jury found them guilty on multiple charges in a major federal corruption trial," Sarah Cwiek reports.

Lawyer who represented Chrysler in bankruptcy might be Detroit's EFM

Kevin Orr, a Washington D.C. lawyer who represented Chrysler in it's 2009 bankruptcy might be Governor Rick Snyder's choice to be Detroit's emergency financial manager. That's if Snyder moves forward with an emergency financial manager for the city. As the Detroit News reports,

"A high-level source with knowledge of the decision confirmed late yesterday that Orr is the choice. He's the only name to emerge who hasn't denied interest since Snyder declared the city in a financial emergency March 1."

Detroit City Council to argue against an EFM in a hearing today

"Michigan officials are set to hear an appeal from Detroit council members who dispute the state's declaration that the city has no plan to fix its fiscal crisis. Chief Deputy Treasurer Mary MacDowell will attend today's hearing in Lansing and report back to Governor Rick Snyder. Detroit has a budget deficit of $327 million," the Associated Press reports.

8:54 pm
Mon March 11, 2013

Federal prison isn't former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's only concern

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick (file photo)
Michigan Radio Newsroom

Kwame Kilpatrick’s federal racketeering and extortion convictions may mean the former Detroit mayor will not be able to pay the city approximately $850,000 in restitution in another case.

Monday, Kwame Kilpatrick was convicted on more than 20 counts of racketeering. extortion and other charges.   The former mayor faces up to 20 years in federal prison. 

In 2008, Kilpatrick agreed to pay a million dollars in restitution as part of a guilty plea to state obstruction of justice charges. He also served time in prison.

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9:38 am
Mon March 11, 2013

Verdict in ex-Detroit mayor corruption trial

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick (file photo)
Michigan Radio Newsroom

DETROIT (AP) - A court spokesman says jurors have reached a verdict in the corruption trial of ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

Rod Hansen says in an email that lawyers for Kilpatrick, his father Bernard and city contractor Bobby Ferguson have been summoned Monday morning to Detroit federal court after 14 days of deliberations.

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Politics & Government
8:47 am
Mon March 11, 2013

Commentary: Detroit can emerge like Rodriguez in "Searching for Sugarman"

Lessenberry commentary for 3/11/13

About 15 years ago, someone told me that a man who was Billie Holiday’s alter ego, and had ghostwritten her classic memoir turned movie, “Lady Sings the Blues,”  was living in a little blue house in the Detroit area. That sounded interesting, so I went to see him.

His name was Bill Dufty, and I found out that not only was all that true, he also turned out to be the last husband of Gloria Swanson, the silent film star. What’s more, virtually nobody in the media knew about him. The Dalai Lama knew him, and so did Yoko Ono. But the media did not. His life was worth a book of its own.

Why did nobody know this fascinating man was in Detroit? Well, it‘s largely because as hard as we try to pretend otherwise, the news media are, in large part, stenographers for society’s institutions. Unless you run for office, commit a crime, get dragged into court, put on a concert or do something to call attention to yourself, you may never end up being “covered” in the news media.

I’ve spent most of my life in the Detroit area, and know there are countless other fascinating people beneath the radar. That’s why I wasn’t shocked by the Oscar-winning movie, “Searching for Sugarman.”

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Politics & Government
7:55 am
Mon March 11, 2013

In this morning's news: Detroit and possible EM, Rogers considers run for Senate, Maple Syrup Month

Detroit has one more day to avoid an emergency manager

"The Detroit city council has one more day to put the final touches to its arguments to avert a state takeover. An appeal hearing is scheduled for tomorrow before a state treasury official, who will forward a recommendation to Governor Rick Snyder," Rick Pluta reports.

Mike Rogers considers running for Levin's Senate seat

"Republican U.S. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers says he's seriously considering running for the Michigan U.S. Senate seat that Democrat Carl Levin is vacating next year. The 78-year-old Levin announced Thursday that he wouldn't run again when his current term expires in 2014," the Associated Press reports.

Snyder announces March as "Michigan Maple Syrup Month"

"Gov. Rick Snyder has declared March "Michigan Maple Syrup Month" in honor of the industry's contribution to the state economy. According to the state, Michigan ranks seventh in the U.S. with an average yearly maple syrup production of about 100,000 gallons," the Associated Press reports.

11:20 am
Thu March 7, 2013

Detroit just can't support a bid for the 2024 Olympics, says Mayor Bing

It's not too likely that Olympic rings will be hanging in Detroit (the Olympic rings in London).
John Curnow Flickr

Detroit was one of 35 cities to receive a letter from the U.S. Olympic Committee asking for a bid on the 2024 Olympics.

ABC News reported the letters were sent "to gauge the interest of cities that may have the ability to host an event with the scope and scale of the Olympic Games."

Maybe they haven't been reading the headlines about Detroit lately.

Mayor Bing politely declined their invitation this morning.

Here's his statement:

“While we appreciate the opportunity and recognize that we have successfully hosted many major sporting events, including the NCAA Final Four; MLB All-Star Game; NFL Super Bowl; two World Series; and nine NHL Stanley Cup finals, this decision is not an easy one. With our rich history of hosting major events and Detroit’s prime location on an international border, we recognize that this makes Detroit an appealing candidate to potentially host the 2024 Olympics and Paralympics.

"However, the bid calls for a $10 million upfront bid process payment and adding more than a $3 billion operating budget commitment -- not including cost associated with venue construction and other infrastructure cost.

"Unfortunately, due to the timing and uncertainty of Detroit’s long-term financial stability, we must respectfully decline to participate.”

Some supporters aren't giving up. On the "Detroit 2024 Summer Olympic Games Support" Facebook page, this was posted: 

Pay no attention to what Mayor Dave Bing said about Detroit not bidding for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games. We all agree that he won't be Mayor of Detroit next year. Financial issues or not the Detroit Olympic Movement will keep moving.
8:31 am
Thu March 7, 2013

Commentary: Facing reality in Detroit

Jack Lessenberry's essay "Facing reality in Detroit"

Some years ago, when the Green Party in Germany first had a chance to join a coalition government, there was a tremendous battle within the party between the purists and the pragmatists. The purists, who were nicknamed the “fundis,” felt that would be selling out. The practical politicians, called the “realos,” thought that by joining the government they could influence events and at least get some of their agenda enacted.

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4:56 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

The ACLU wants to know what some Michigan law enforcement agencies are doing with military equipment

(file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The American Civil Liberties Union is asking police departments in Michigan for information about their use of military-style weapons and tactics.

The ACLU sent public records requests this week to police departments in Detroit, Flint and Dearborn, as well as the Michigan State Police.   Similar requests were sent to cities in 22 other states.

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Politics & Government
1:17 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Detroit leaders planning to challenge 'financial emergency' finding

Mayor Dave Bing met with Gov. Snyder yesterday.
Kate Davidson Michigan Radio

Detroit City Council members have been hoping they could put up a united front against an emergency manager with Mayor Bing.

Now it looks like they have some support in that effort.

At a council meeting this morning, one of Mayor Bing's staffers said he would support the council's effort to challenge the state.

The city plans to contest the state financial review panel's finding that Detroit is in a "financial emergency" and that the city has no plan to address the problem.

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Politics & Government
3:42 pm
Tue March 5, 2013

To challenge or not? Detroit's elected officials struggle for response to Governor Snyder

Credit City of Detroit

Detroit city officials are struggling to come up with a unified response to Governor Snyder’s decision to appoint an emergency financial manager.

They now have less than a week to decide if they want to challenge that. If they do, Governor Snyder has said a hearing will be held March 12.

Most members of the City Council want to at least pursue a public hearing challenging Snyder’s decision. But several say that’s difficult because Detroit mayor Dave Bing hasn’t publicly declared his position.

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2:52 pm
Mon March 4, 2013

What’s Next for Detroit

Jack Lessenberry talks about what's next for Detroit.

While Detroit can technically appeal the governor’s decision to appoint an emergency manager, it is clear that the city is going to get one within the next couple of weeks.

Detroiters are now waiting to find out the identity of the person who will have more power in their city than any mayor has ever had. 

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Politics & Government
11:46 am
Mon March 4, 2013

Detroiters split over emergency manager: good, bad, or just inevitable?

Governor Snyder announced last week that he’ll appoint an emergency manager for the city of Detroit.

That means an unelected person will have sweeping powers to try and stop Detroit’s financial hemorrhaging.

Of course, emergency managers are controversial. And though they don’t have a choice in the matter, Detroiters are very much divided about whether this is a good thing.

“Both are going to hurt, which will hurt the less?”

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Politics & Government
3:26 pm
Sun March 3, 2013

Business group raises $6.4M for Detroit lighting

Credit Flickr user Molly Des Jardin

A private business group has stepped up with $6.4 million to do what struggling Detroit couldn't - restore working street lights along a 2.3 mile thoroughfare on the city's southwest side.

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Politics & Government
6:18 pm
Fri March 1, 2013

Despite Gov.'s plea to 'stop fighting,' leaders poised to fight a state takeover of Detroit

Gov. Snyder declares Detroit is in a 'financial emergency.'

Gov. Snyder announced today that he agrees with a state financial review team finding that Detroit is in a "financial emergency." His announcement clears the way for a state-appointed emergency manager. Snyder has a candidate in mind, but wouldn't give up any details on who he has chosen.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing reacted to the news this way:

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Politics & Government
11:26 am
Fri March 1, 2013

Watch Live: Governor speaking at noon about Detroit's finances

The scene at the Detroit Public Television studios where Gov. Snyder is making his announcment.
Matt Helms Twitter

Governor Rick Snyder will be talking about Detroit's financial crisis today at noon.

If the governor declares a financial emergency today, city officials have 10 days to contest the finding before the governor can name an emergency manager.
Eight other cities and school districts are already being run by state-appointed managers.

You can watch the Governor's announcement below:

Watch Live and On Demand video from Detroit Public TV.

Politics & Government
10:20 am
Fri March 1, 2013

Commentary: Detroit on the brink

Lessenberry commentary for 3/1/13

Yesterday, when I learned that the governor would come to Detroit today to announce his decision, I felt sadness and relief.

Everyone had known for weeks this was coming. Most of the politicians, including all the current candidates for mayor, remain opposed to the idea of an emergency manager.

But all or nearly all knew this day was inevitable, and even a few of those publicly denouncing the governor’s decision must be secretly relieved. The other shoe has finally dropped.

Difficult times are coming. But at least we are going to see change in the city, drastic changes in the way business is done.

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Politics & Government
7:31 am
Fri March 1, 2013

In this morning's news: Detroit financial announcement, health care updates, and Michigan roads

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Governor Snyder to make an announcement on Detroit's financial emergency

"Governor Rick Snyder is expected to announce today that he agrees with a review team’s determination that Detroit is in a financial crisis with no plan to solve it. That would set the stage for the governor to name an emergency manager to run the city later in March. There’s no official word on what the governor plans to do, but he has said the condition of Detroit’s finances is unacceptable," Rick Pluta reports.

Health care exchange and Blue Cross Blue Shield bills move forward

Michigan is moving forward on the Affordable Care Act. As the Detroit Free Press reports,

"In a 78-31 vote, 29 Republicans joined with 49 Democrats [Thursday] to accept $30.6 million in federal money to set up a Web-based health care exchange where Michigan residents can easily go and investigate, and ultimately buy, the health insurance mandated under the act. The House also overwhelmingly passed a pair of bills that transforms Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan from a tax-exempt nonprofit into a nonprofit mutual insurer."

Lawmakers consider ballot proposal to raise sales tax to fund Michigan roads

Lawmakers have come up with a new idea to fix Michigan's roads. As the Detroit News reports,

"Republican lawmakers could take the first step next week toward financing Gov. Rick Snyder's $1.2 billion road improvements by trying to place a 1-cent sales tax increase on the May ballot."

Politics & Government
5:31 pm
Thu February 28, 2013

Announcement on Detroit financial crisis coming tomorrow at noon

Bing talking to the Detroit City Council last year about budget cuts. The city has not been able to find a solution to its debt problem yet.
City of Detroit

Gov. Rick Snyder's office just put out a news release saying the Governor will hold a "forum with invited Detroiters to discuss Detroit's financial situation."

It will be held at tomorrow at noon at the Detroit Public Television studios, 5057 Woodward Ave. in Detroit.

A live stream will be available as well.

It's widely expected that Gov. Snyder will appoint an emergency manager for the city.

Earlier today, the Detroit Free Press reported that Mayor Dave Bing said he doesn't expect Snyder to offer a name tomorrow:

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