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Gary Peters

I discovered something bizarre when Brenda Lawrence first ran for mayor of Southfield 13 years ago.

Back then, Southfield, a suburban business center and bedroom community just north of Detroit, had just become a majority African-American city. Lawrence was challenging a white mayor who’d been in office almost 30 years.

When I talked to some of the 70,000 residents, I found white voters who were excited about her candidacy and who wanted to get rid of the longtime incumbent. But I talked to upwardly mobile black voters who emphatically did not want a black mayor.

They told me that every community that elects a black mayor soon became an impoverished ghetto. Lawrence vowed that wouldn’t happen. She won, and it hasn’t. She has been in office ever since.

The Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce may not like to admit this, but their Mackinac Policy Conference’s official agenda is not the reason the vast majority of those who attend go to the island. Many who pay the steep registration fees of between $2,000 and $3,000 come for the incredible networking opportunities.

Mackinac in May is unique because for three days, you have virtually all the state’s top business and civic leaders and politicians in one building on an island without cars. They can’t easily run away; they have to talk to each other, and those beguiling possibilities attract hordes of media, too.

Yes, the conference spent a lot of money this year to bring in education and business experts like Jim Clifton and Joel Klein. But during their sessions, most of the businessmen seemed to be huddling with each other. And the media tend to focus its attention on politics, especially in an election year, and on the One Big Story of the day, in this case, Detroit.

This year’s conference was no exception. This has been something of a love fest for Gov. Rick Snyder, who is frankly adored by the vast majority of those here.

Though there is one protestor wearing a giant paper-mache Snyder head outside the hotel, inside, Snyder is viewed as a cross between a rock star and a conquering hero. His only competition in the charisma department came, perhaps surprisingly, from Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.

So whatever happened to the New International Trade Crossing Bridge?

For years, an epic battle raged between those who knew we needed a new bridge across the Detroit River, and Matty Moroun, the 86-year-old man who owned the 85-year-old Ambassador Bridge, the only game in town.

Moroun held up a new bridge for years, mostly by buying off Michigan legislators with bribes thinly described as campaign contributions, but that ended when Rick Snyder became governor.

Snyder found a way to bypass the lawmakers and conclude an agreement with Canada. That was almost two years ago, however, and ground has yet to be broken.

So what’s happening?

This time the culprit is not Matty Moroun, but, bizarrely, Barack Obama.

President Obama has been supportive of a new bridge. There was no difficulty gaining a presidential permit to build it. Money was not a problem, because our friends the Canadians are paying for almost all of it. They are advancing Michigan’s share of more than half a billion dollars, which we don’t have to pay back until the bridge is up and tolls are being collected.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

2014 will be a big election year in Michigan and spending by Political Action Committees is expected to be just as big.

Rich Robinson is the director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.

It’s day two of the government shutdown.

Democratic Congressman Gary Peters joined us today. He represents Michigan's 14th Congressional district. He’s here to help those of us who are not on the ground in D.C. understand where things stand right now.

Listen to the full interview above.

Some thirty years after the County Jail Overcrowding Act was passed, Michigan is still dealing with overcrowding emergencies in jails across the state. On today's show: How do we fix the problem of jails filled to the brim? Do we reduce bonds? Increase rates of early release?

And, when it comes to scrap metal theft, anything goes, from manhole covers to copper Jesus statues. What can Michigan lawmakers do to crack down on these thefts?

Also, Michigan writer Natalie Burg joined us to talk about her new book. It's a memoir of her experience living on a Swedish farm.

First on the show, it’s day two of the government shutdown.

Democratic Congressman Gary Peters joined us today. He represents Michigan's 14th Congressional district. 

And former Congressman Joe Schwarz joined us to give us his perspective on the issue as well.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Three Michigan congressmen met with entrepreneurs in Grand Rapids for “Startup America Day” Thursday. It’s a chance for entrepreneurs to tell lawmakers how they can better support startup companies.

Congressman Gary Peters (D-Detroit) co-chairs the House Caucus on Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

“We’ve got to make sure that we’re creating an environment that entrepreneurs with a good idea have an opportunity to take that idea, capitalize on it and run as long and as hard as they can with it,” Peters said.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit Congressman Gary Peters wants the US Government Accountability Office to study petroleum coke.

Peters has asked the Congressional investigative office to examine what are “best practices” for handling the substance, a byproduct of refining Canadian tar sands oil.

Some petroleum coke is being stored openly at a site along the Detroit River near the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

DIA is being appraised

Christie's Appraisals, a New York-based International auction house, says it has agreed to appraise some city-owned pieces in the Detroit Institute of Arts. Emergency manager Kevyn Orr has said the art valuations are a necessary part of the debt restructuring and don't "portent a sale of any asset."

Board meeting to discuss Michigan's Medical Marijuana Act

A state panel will meet this afternoon to consider whether new health conditions should be covered under Michigan’s Medical Marijuana Act. A previous board already voted to allow patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and Parkinson’s disease to use medical pot, but those conditions were never officially added to the list of acceptable ailments. Some advocates question whether the new board risks the same fate because it doesn’t include proper representation from the medical community. The state says it’s working to fix the make-up of the panel, Michigan Public Radio's Jake Neher reports.

Raising awareness of petroleum coke in Detroit

A round table discussion is scheduled in Detroit this morning to raise awareness of petroleum coke piled and stored along the Detroit River. U.S. Representative Gary Peters is expected to discuss his plans to ensure that such storage minimizes risk of dust and water contamination. The Bloomfield Township Democrat has introduced legislation calling for a federal study of health and environmental effects of open air storage of the material, known as pet coke, the Associated Press reports.

Congressman Dave Camp with John Boehner.
user republicanconference / Flickr

Michigan House Republican Dave Camp is considering a possible Senate run in 2014, Politico’s John Bresnahan and Jake Sherman reported.

A Midland native, Camp serves as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, an influential task force in charge of tax writing. Camp has been working across the aisle with Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus, (D-MT), on overhauling the tax code.

But Camp’s term-limited chairmanship is ending, and now Washington -- and Michigan -- are buzzing with the possibility of a Senate run. From Politico:

"I’m looking at it," Camp said. "It’s a big decision, and I’m going to look at it very carefully and thoughtfully."

Politico also reported that the Michigan representative has met with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to discuss the possibility of entering his hat into the senatorial ring.

Michigan's next Senator Gary Peters.
U.S. Representative Gary Peters

A half-dozen major transportation infrastructure projects are in the works for southeast Michigan, and Congressman Gary Peters wants to make sure local workers get the jobs that come along with them.

Peters convened a transportation jobs summit to push that objective Monday.

“If we’re bringing federal money into the state of Michigan, I want people from the state of Michigan working on those projects," said Peters. "And if the project is in the city of Detroit, then I want Detroiters working on those projects.”

Peters says those federal funds often come tied to thousands of local employment opportunities—but that doesn’t always work out.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - A Detroit-area congressman who is running for U.S. Senate has a deep investment portfolio of large-company stocks and municipal bonds.

U.S. Rep. Gary Peters says he had assets worth at least $970,000 and possibly as high as $3.9 million at the end of 2012. He's not required to be specific, only to put values in certain ranges. All members of Congress must file annual financial disclosure forms.

Peters, a Democrat from Oakland County, is running next year for the Senate seat held by Carl Levin, who is retiring.

cncphotos / flickr

This week in Michigan politics, Jack Lessenberry and Kyle Norris discuss Medicaid expansion in Michigan, immigration reform and how it could affect struggling Michigan cities, and the race for Senator Carl Levin’s seat in the U.S. Senate.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Residents and business owners in Detroit are worried--and outraged--about petroleum coke piles growing on the city’s riverfront.

Here's what the piles look like from Fort Street in Southwest Detroit:

That byproduct of the oil refining process is being dumped in massive piles—now several blocks long and building stories high--along the Detroit River. It’s stored in the open, and wasn’t approved through any permitting process.

migop.org

Focus is starting to turn to Election 2014 in Michigan.

Former Democratic Congressman Mark Schauer filed paperwork this morning to run against Governor Rick Snyder in 2014, assuming that the Governor does, in fact, decide to run for a second term.

And Democratic Congressman Gary Peters announced earlier this month that he’ll run for the U.S. Senate seat open in 2014 because of Carl Levin’s retirement. 

So, it appears that the Democrats are beginning to get their ducks in a row, but what about Republicans?

Bobby Schostak, Chairman of the Michigan Republican Party, joined us today in the studio.

Listen to the full interview above.

How much do you know about Mark Schauer? Well, unless you are from Battle Creek, the answer is: Probably not nearly as much as you are going to know a year and a half from now. That’s because he is going to be the Democrats’ nominee for governor next year. That may surprise you.

Most normal humans aren’t thinking about next year’s elections. They are thinking about finally getting their lawn furniture out now that they are finally convinced it isn’t going to snow anymore.

But the Democrats are thinking about those elections. This has been a terrible last two years for them. They hate much of what Governor Rick Snyder and the Republican legislature has done, most of all, making this a right-to-work state.

They also hate the fact that they are utterly irrelevant in Lansing. The battles going on in state government these days are mainly between the Republican governor and his fellow Republicans who control both houses of the legislature.

Gary Peters / Facebook

It's been nearly two months since U.S. Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) announced he would not seek a seventh term.

That announcement sets up one of the biggest political questions in Michigan: who will take over his seat in 2014?

Last week , three-time Congressman Gary Peters announced he will run for Levin's seat. Democrats say Peters gives them a strong candidate.

Republicans say the Congressman has supported left-leaning policies that have become unpopular in Michigan.

Congressman, and now Senate candidate, Gary Peters joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

  Who might be the Republicans' best hope of winning Michigan's Senate seat?

Republican strategist Dennis Lennox joined us today.

We asked him why a Republican hasn't jumped into the race yet and who their ideal candidate might be.

Listen to the full interview above.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

This "week in review," Rina Miller and Jack Lessenberry discuss the U.S. Senate race, allowing health coverage for live-in partners and the retirement of the emergency manager for Detroit Public Schools.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Each Thursday we speak with Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

This week, we look at clashes over the budget which led to House Speaker Jase Bolger removing eight Democrats from their committee assignments. Four were later given back those assignments after what Bolger called “positive individual meetings."

And Gary Peters announced his run for Senate. Who might Republicans choose to run against him?

Listen to the full interview above.

For many years, it was far more common for Democrats to have brawling, bruising primary fights than Republicans.

The Democratic Party, after all, was a coalition of sometimes very different factions – African-Americans and Jews; labor and ethnic groups; factory workers and elegant, highly educated liberals in places like Ann Arbor.

They often had little in common except the fact that they were all more opposed to the Republicans.

Republicans, on the other hand, were more homogenous, more like an extended family that was largely business-oriented, largely white Protestant, and didn’t like fighting in public.

They even used to have what they called the Eleventh Commandment: “Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican.” Well, times have changed.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

House passes welfare reform bills

“The state House has passed bills to revoke welfare benefits based on drug use and persistent school absences. One bill would allow suspicion-based drug testing, which could lead to families losing their cash assistance ... Another measure would allow suspicion-based drug testing of welfare recipients ... The bill got bi-partisan support in the House,” Jake Neher reports.

ACLU files suit against Grand Rapids police

The American Civil Liberties Union has sued Grand Rapids authorities for routinely making unconstitutional arrests for trespassing on property of businesses open to the public.

“ACLU Attorney Miriam Aukerman says city police have long urged businesses to sign a ‘letter of intent to prosecute trespassers.’ Then, they use that letter as an excuse to arrest people they decide are trespassing on business properties,” Michigan Radio’s Tracy Samilton reports.

Gary Peters officially announces run for Senate

Three-term Democratic Congressman Gary Peters became the first major candidate to kick off a campaign for Michigan’s soon-to-be vacant U.S. Senate seat. The seat will be left empty after Senator Carl Levin steps down in 2014. Several Republican candidates are also considering running.

Sen. Peters is hoping a bipartisan push will secure federal resources to assist in Michigan's efforts in Flint
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

“Today is a big day to start.  But the start of what’s going to be a long campaign.”

With that, suburban Detroit Congressman Gary Peters informally launched his bid for the United States Senate today in Rochester.   A formal campaign kickoff is planned for this fall. 

The Bloomfield Township Democrat  is hoping to succeed Senator Carl Levin who is retiring from the Senate after six terms in Washington.

Peters says his business background as a financial planner helped prepare him for Washington.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

It's has been expected, and now it is official.

In an e-mail to supporters today, this logo was at the top:

cncphotos / flickr

This week in Michigan politics, Christina Shockley and Jack Lessenberry discuss the race for the Senate seat left vacant by Carl Levin, legislation that would allow a wolf hunt despite a petition against it, and Governor Snyder's call for businesses to become more directly involved in schools.

Gary Peters
Gary Peters / peters.house.gov

U.S. Rep. Gary Peters, D-MI 14, is expected to announce his intention to run for the U.S. Senate in 2014.

After serving six terms, Michigan Senator Carl Levin announced his retirement earlier this year leaving the seat open.

Todd Spangler of the Detroit Free Press reports that Peters is expected to announce his run tomorrow in Rochester Hills.

A Democratic source told the Free Press on Monday that Peters, who had been widely expected to run, would announce his intentions and visit several other cities around the state — including Flint, Lansing and Grand Rapids — this week.

Peters, a 54-year-old Democrat and former state senator and Michigan Lottery commissioner, is in his third term in Congress, winning in the new Detroit-based 14th Congressional District in 2012, even though he lives outside it in Bloomfield Township. In his two previous terms, he represented the 9th District based in Oakland County.

Republicans say they have a "great opportunity" to take the Senate seat.

These Republicans names have been mentioned in a potential run for the seat:

  • Justin Amash
  • Dave Camp
  • John Engler
  • Terri Lynn Land
  • Pete Lund
  • Randy Richardville
  • Mike Rogers
  • Fred Upton

And these Democrats:

  • Gary Peters
  • Jocelyn Benson
  • Hansen Clarke
  • Geoffrey Fieger
  • Mark Hackel
  • Mark Schauer

The last time a Republican won a Senate seat in Michigan was in 1994 with Spencer Abraham.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Gary Peters announces run for U.S. Senate

U.S. Representative Gary Peters, who represents the Detroit-based 14th Congressional District, is expected to announce his candidacy for the U.S. Senate today. As the Detroit Free Press reports:

"Peters has been considered a likely candidate for the seat being vacated by U.S. Sen. Carl Levin since Levin announced in March his intentions to retire at the end of the current term. Shortly after Levin’s announcement, Peters told the Free Press he was 'seriously considering' a run for that seat."

Corporate donations to help create "wraparound" schools in Detroit

"Detroit and other cities in Michigan are turning to businesses to help pay for schools that provide a wide variety of services to students and their families. Yesterday, JP Morgan Chase announced it will donate $1.5 million to pay for three 'wraparound’ schools in Detroit...Governor Rick Snyder says that could include help with managing household finances or finding a job, or parenting classes,"  Rick Pluta reports.

Law enforcement officials call for an expansion of Medicaid

A group of law enforcement officials is calling on state lawmakers to expand Medicaid coverage to more than 300,000 Michigan residents at an event in Lansing today.

"The group says Medicaid coverage for expectant mothers can help prevent children from being born with fetal alcohol syndrome or fetal alcohol effects. They will also advocate for Medicaid coverage for interventions such as substance abuse and mental and behavioral health issues as a way to cut crime," the Associated Press reports.

Less than two years ago, Congressman Gary Peters and his supporters spent nearly $2 million to win a congressional seat different from the one he already held, and one in which he did not live. That wasn’t really his fault.

Michigan lost a seat in Congress. Redistricting had largely eliminated his old district, and Peters had to run somewhere. In this case, he ended up running against another Democratic incumbent, Hansen Clarke, in the oddest shaped district in our history.

The current 14th looks like an old man sitting in a chair with his legs tucked under. His head is Pontiac, his neck, Keego Harbor, His body takes in a wide swath of Oakland County suburbs, from West Bloomfield through Farmington Hills and Southfield, before expanding to include many poor neighborhoods in Detroit. Finally, the legs take in the Grosse Pointes, and the feet end up in a Hispanic neighborhood near the coming new Detroit River Bridge.

This doesn’t exactly fit the ideal standard for a district composed of communities with common interests, but it did fit the needs of the Republican legislature, which wanted to pack as many Democrats into as few districts as possible. Plus, they felt that the Voting Rights Act required them to create two districts that had a majority of African-American residents.

Gary Peters
Gary Peters / peters.house.gov

Cyndi talked with Michigan Congressman Gary Peters (D) today.

Peters is the new co-chair of the House Automotive Caucus along with Republican Congressman John Campbell (R-CA).

Peters talked about what it's like in a bi-partisan caucus and what it might mean for Michigan and the auto industry.

Click the audio above to hear the full interview.

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