ethics

Stateside
5:29 pm
Wed June 12, 2013

The line between innovation, technology, and moral standards

Dr. Cynthia Finelli
engin.umich.edu

An interview with Dr. Cynthia Finelli.

Engineering and technology touch our lives every minute of every day. As we move into this 21st Century, technology is progressing at rates that are faster than most anyone could have imagined.

But as engineers design this new technology, what's happening at the intersection of "technology" and "ethics?” And what's the price we pay when engineers overlook that "moral compass?"

These are questions Dr. Cynthia Finelli is focused on as she helps train the engineers of the future.

Dr. Cynthia Finelli is the director of the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching in Engineering and she's a research associate professor at the University of Michigan.

And she's part of a team called E3, which stands for "Exploring Ethical Decision-Making in Engineering," a group of engineering teachers from many colleges and universities. These teachers study engineering ethics.

Dr. Cynthia Finelli joined us in the studio.

Listen to the full interview above.

Politics & Culture
4:59 pm
Wed June 12, 2013

Stateside for Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

On today's show, we found out why baby boomers seem to be key for the auto industry.

And, the author of the new book, "The Great American Jet Pack: The Quest for the Ultimate Individual Lift Device" joined us to take a look at the history of individual flight.

Also, we took a look into the ethics of technology and engineering with the help of Dr. Cynthia Finelli.

First on the show, one of the cities that has been in the headlines of late is Hamtramck.

Governor Snyder has declared that the 2.1 square mile city within Detroit is under a financial emergency and could come under the control of a state-appointed emergency manager.

But facing tough financial times is nothing new for Hamtramck. And, starting from its beginning as a home for Polish immigrants, the city continues to be one of the most diverse communities in the state.

We wanted to find out more about the unique history of Hamtramck, so we turn to someone who was born in Hamtramck. His family’s roots in the city go back to when his grandfather first arrived.

Greg Kowalski is chairman of the Hamtramck Historical Commission and he joined us today in the studio.

Politics & Culture
4:51 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

Stateside for Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A state-appointed review team found the small city of Hamtramck is once again in a state of financial emergency. Will the city succumb to state control again?

And nearby in Detroit, one prominent observer has growing doubts about the effectiveness of the city's emergency manager.

And, a new film documentary explores the different ways Michigan families have transformed deep loss into opportunities to grow.

Also, Tom Ivacko joined us to discuss how local leaders would like citizen to get involved with government.

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Law
5:51 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

House Democrats push for changes to ethics, election laws during 'Sunshine Week'

State Representative Winnie Brinks at a June press conference announcing she'll run.
Courtesy photo Michigan Democratic Party

It's Sunshine Week, an annual push for open government and the public’s right to know stuff.

Democrats in the state House tied the introduction of a package of bills to Sunshine Week. The bills include a number of changes to Michigan's laws and constitution regarding ethics, campaign finance, and elections.

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Politics
3:57 pm
Tue April 3, 2012

Michigan gets an "F" on "Corruption Risk Report Card"

Michigan fails the integrity test.
State Integrity Investigation

In the opening of his State Integrity Investigation piece, reporter Chris Andrews shows us why Michigan gets the failing grade:

The campaign finance system here has more holes than I-94 after a spring thaw. Big spenders and special interests can easily shovel millions of dollars into election activities — secretly if they choose... And the financial disclosure system for state elected officials?

Well actually, there isn’t one.

Welcome to Michigan, the “Trust Us” State when it comes to transparency. Reform efforts are frequently launched, sometimes debated, always shelved.

The State Integrity Investigation is a project of the Center for Public Integrity, Global Integrity, and Public Radio International.

The project aims to "expose practices that undermine trust in state capitols -- and spotlight the states that are doing things right."

You can see how all the states stack up here.

Clearly, Michigan is not going to make the highlight reel.

Overall, after looking at 330 specific measures of "state integrity," Michigan ranked 43rd among the 50 states.

And while Lansing has not been rocked by scandals seen in some other state capitols around the country, Andrews writes there are "glaring holes," when it comes to transparency in money spent to lobby lawmakers, and in the money spent to elect or defeat candidates in Michigan.

Michigan Supreme Court elections, a seat money can buy

How money can influence the perceived integrity, or the real integrity of an office was highlighted in a recent piece by Michigan Radio's Lester Graham.

In his Michigan Watch report, Money Talks: Campaign money and Supreme Court justice candidates, Graham illustrated how once a candidate wins a seat on the Michigan Supreme Court "no one really knows if a case is being decided strictly on the merits, or because of someone’s hidden political donation and its influence."

Graham spoke with former Michigan Supreme Court justice Betty Weaver about this:

“It isn’t just the appearance of impropriety, this money does have influence. Common sense tells you it does. I’ve been there,” said Weaver.

LG: Do you think you’ve seen on the court influence because of a large donor at one time or another?  

“Yes, I do think that the ability to control who gets appointed and who gets elected has an effect on the decisions of the court, so you can pretty well guess how it’s going to go,” said Weaver.

In his State Integrity Investigation piece on Michigan, Chris Andrews notes that Gov. Snyder proposed an ethics package when he was running for governor in 2010. Snyder called for banning gifts from lobbyists, "cooling-off periods," and regulating issue advertising.

But while Snyder achieved many of his campaign goals after taking office in 2011, these reforms were put on the back burner.

Rich Robinson, executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, told Andrews that lawmakers in Michigan are unlikely to change anything unless the public demands it.

Commentary
11:29 am
Tue March 20, 2012

Lacking Integrity in State Government

First, the bad news: A State Integrity Commission yesterday released a new study of ethics and integrity in state governments across the United States. To quote the New York Times, it found:

“Most states shy away from public scrutiny, fail to enact or enforce ethics laws, and allow corporations and the wealthy a dominant voice in elections and policy decisions.”

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