Jack Lessenberry

Politics
9:00 am
Wed January 11, 2012

Week in State Politics

The Week in State Politics, Wednesday, January 11th, 2012
Aflyingpsychofly Flickr

It's Wednesday, which means it's the day we speak with Michigan Radio's Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry about what's going on in state politics. Today, we take a look at both Republican and Democratic plans for the new legislative session, talk about the political implications of the Detroit Auto Show and a look at what a Romney win in New Hampshire means for Michigan's own GOP primary.

Commentary
10:40 am
Tue January 10, 2012

Destroying Our Future

All politicians say they’re against oppressive tax burdens. For instance, Governor Rick Snyder. Almost his entire program is focused on making Michigan more competitive economically.

But the tragic irony of this is that one of the unintended consequences of his reforms is having exactly the opposite effect. We are imposing a stiff and burdensome tax on our young people, making it harder for them to compete than most states do.

In some cases, we are making it impossible, and we are going to be paying the price for this for many years to come.

That’s because we are imposing what Phil Power at the Center for Michigan calls a “college user tax,” on the students of this state that saddles many with crushing debt and prices others out of the market entirely. I learned the details this morning from a story in Bridge, the new online newsmagazine published by the Center, a non-partisan, non-profit group aimed at finding common-sense solutions for our state’s problems. Phil Power also wrote his weekly column about the study. It makes for shocking reading.

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Commentary
11:54 am
Mon January 9, 2012

Who is Clark Durant?

Clark Durant is a man of ideas who is far more knowledgeable about American history than most United States senators I’ve met.

His office is filled with portraits of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, together with photos of a much younger Clark with Ronald Reagan and Sandra Day O’Connor. He’s fascinated by Washington, D.C. and absolutely hates its culture.

This year, he’s running hard for the United States Senate, because he thinks his country is in great danger of being destroyed by debt and spending with no thought for the consequences.

And he believes that maybe, just maybe, he can do something to change that. “If this were just about trying to be one more Republican senator, I wouldn’t be doing this. I know I would be a freshman senator, bottom of the pack in seniority, at 63 years old."

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Politics
9:52 am
Wed January 4, 2012

The Week in State Politics

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Ifmuth Flickr

On this week's The Week in State Politics, Michigan Radio's Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry speaks with Christina Shockley about a possible state budget surplus for the next fiscal year and what a Mitt Romney win in Iowa means for his prospects in the Michigan primary.

Commentary
9:12 am
Fri December 23, 2011

Michigan's Governor makes a misstep on benefits to the unmarried domestic partners

Politically speaking, this has been the year of Rick Snyder. Since he first burst on the scene two years ago, he has had an astonishing run of success. The experts said a self-proclaimed “nerd” without any political experience couldn’t possibly win the nomination for governor, much less the general election.

 When he did both, they said the new kid would fall on his face in the rough-and-tumble world of Lansing. Instead, he got more significant legislation enacted in a few short months than his predecessor had in eight years.

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Politics
9:13 am
Wed December 21, 2011

The Week in State Politics

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Ifmuth Flickr

In this week's edition of The Week in State Politics we speak with Michigan Radio's Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry about the cap that's been lifted on the amount of charter schools that are allowed in the state, what it means for workers now that a new workers' compensation bill has been signed into law, and we'll take a look at what we should expect from the state legislature in 2012.

Commentary
12:26 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

A new idea for schools, make them centers of the community

Toledo, Ohio is just across Michigan’s southern border, but as far as policy makers in our state are concerned, it might as well be another country. In fact, virtually nobody in Michigan pays much attention to anything going on in Toledo, which is unfortunate.

That’s because in many ways, Toledo, a city of about 300,000 people, is more like Michigan than like the rest of Ohio. It has a blue-collar economy that has long mirrored Detroit’s.The Motor City made cars;Toledo made Jeeps and auto parts.

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Commentary
11:34 am
Mon December 19, 2011

Wayne State football: Go Warriors!

If you are a football fan, you probably know that the Detroit Lions won a thrilling comeback victory yesterday, and are having their best season in something like a million years.

If you know a lot about University of Michigan athletics, you may know that the athletic department has a budget of $110 million, of which football takes the biggest share. Michigan State’s athletic budget is about $80 million.

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Commentary
10:34 am
Mon December 12, 2011

Prejudice, Modern Style

Last week two dismaying things happened - one predictable, the other shocking. The predictable one first: the Michigan legislature passed a bill banning the unmarried partner of any public employee from receiving health care benefits, as a spouse normally does.

The bill was sponsored by State Representative Dave Agema, who has never made any secret of his hostility to gay people. Make no mistake about it; this is a gay-bashing bill, though some of those supporting it hypocritically pretend otherwise.

They argued that this is required under a state constitutional amendment that says marriage is limited to men and women. There were even some who said this was necessary to save the cash-strapped state money. But in fact, while nobody has any statistics that I have seen, the amount saved has to be small.

My guess is that this law, if Governor Snyder makes the mistake of signing it, would end up costing the state more money than it would save, because of the lawsuits that are sure to result.

One problem is the state’s public universities. They contend that they have the power to determine their own policies under the Michigan Constitution, and the governor thinks they are right.

But others disagree, especially anti-gay activists, and they are certain to take to the courts. The resulting publicity is sure to be bad for competitiveness in Michigan. Aren‘t we supposed to be trying to attract the best and the brightest to our state? It is worth noting that one of Michigan‘s most respected university presidents is openly gay.

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Commentary
11:56 am
Fri December 9, 2011

The Education Disconnect

Michigan Radio has been sponsoring a set of public forums designed to bring experts on various issues together with the public in an informal, non-threatening way, a series called “Issues and Ale.“ I moderated one earlier this week that focused on education, held at the Wolverine Brewing Company in Ann Arbor. I was doubtful how many people would actually show up. This was on Tuesday night in what is really early winter, with the holidays approaching. To my surprise, however, before the evening was over it was standing room only, with people packing the hall.

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Politics
11:24 am
Wed December 7, 2011

The Week in State Politics

Aflyingpsychofly Flickr

It's Wednesday - which means it's the day we speak with Michigan Radio's Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry about what's going on in state politics. And, in today's conversation, it's all about the possibility of Detroit coming under a state-appointed emergency manager. We take a look at where things stand in the city's financial review, what a group that wants to repeal the emergency manager law is up to, and we also chat about the letter that Congressman John Conyers' sent to the U.S. Justice Department that is asking Attorney General Eric Holder to look into the constitutionality of the emergency manager law.

Commentary
8:30 am
Sat December 3, 2011

A Dramatic week in Michigan politics and government

This was the week in which Flint finally got an emergency manager, and the week when it began to seem inevitable that Detroit would get one. It was a week when it seemed apparent that the legislature is about to open the state up to unlimited charter schools.

The auto industry seems to be doing better, even as the weather turns worse, and the governor unveiled a major message on talent that was aimed at preparing us for the jobs of the future.

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Politics
11:19 am
Wed November 30, 2011

The Week in State Politics

State Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Matthileo Flickr

It's Wednesday, which means it's the day we talk with Michigan Radio's Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry about what's going on this week in state politics. On tap this morning: Governor Snyder is set to deliver another one of his special messages to the state legislature - this time on workforce development, lawmakers pass an anti-bullying bill for Michigan schools, and the state Department of Human Services sees protests over their so-called, "rocket dockets."

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Commentary
10:05 am
Mon November 28, 2011

Doing the Right Thing

Earlier this month, Wayne County Circuit Judge Prentis Edwards ruled that the privately held Ambassador Bridge company was guilty of contempt of court. This was not surprising.

Nearly two years ago, the judge found that the company and its owner, Matty Moroun, had violated its agreement with the state of Michigan concerning what is known as the Gateway project. This was a joint, two-hundred and thirty million dollar venture between the bridge company and the state to connect the bridge directly to I-75 and I-96 through a series of new roads and ramps.

Both parties agreed on where the roads were to be built. But Moroun violated the agreement. He built a money-generating duty-free shop and put fuel pumps where one of the new roads was to have gone. The Michigan Department of Transportation sued, and in February 2010, the judge issued a ruling.

He ordered the bridge company to tear down the pumps and the duty-free shop, and build the road as agreed. But nothing happened. Eleven months ago, the judge briefly jailed Dan Stamper, president of the bridge company for non-compliance.

He let him out when Stamper promised to get it done. But again, nothing happened. Finally, on November 2, the judge ruled the company guilty of civil contempt.

He set a hearing for Thursday to decide whether to have a court-appointed receiver take control of the project.

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Politics
7:48 am
Wed November 23, 2011

The Week in State Politics

aflyingpsychofly flickr

Every Wednesday, we speak with Michigan Radio's Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry about the state's political happenings during the week. On tap for this morning: Detroit's financial crisis, a $60 million budget hole facing state lawmakers when they return back to the Capitol next week, and the 'failure' of the so-called Congressional super-committee.

Detroit
11:09 am
Tue November 22, 2011

A historical look at Detroit's financial troubles

Ifmuth Flickr

Detroit’s financial troubles have been in the news quite a bit recently with Mayor Dave Bing announcing a plan to lay off 1000 city workers and the looming possibility of the state assigning an emergency manager to take over the city’s finances. Michigan Radio's Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry took a look back at Detroit's history of financial problems.

Commentary
11:01 am
Tue November 22, 2011

A Media Lynching; Dale Kildee story deserved more scrutiny

Patrick Clawson is one of the more aggressive investigative reporters I know.

The former CNN journalist is now semi-retired, and dabbles in a number of occupations. He is no great worshipper of government, titles or institutions. Last year he broke the news that Governor Granholm had awarded a huge tax break to a convicted embezzler whose business was entirely fiction.

Yet he is now outraged about a story he sees as totally irresponsible, and so am I. Yesterday, media throughout the state began reporting allegations that longtime Flint area congressman Dale Kildee improperly touched a young male second cousin of his more than half a century ago. The 82-year-old congressman, indignantly denied the allegations, and noted that the man making them had a long history of mental illness.

There has never previously been any hint of scandal involving Congressman Kildee, who has a wife, three children and announced months ago that he intended to retire after this term.

These stories bothered me when I saw them, because they contained absolutely no evidence or shred of proof. And because I know that any time anyone is accused of something like this, the accusation sticks to them through life, even if later exposed as totally false. What I didn’t know was that it had been checked out.

Pat Clawson contacted me last night and said that he and another well-known investigative journalist, a man instrumental in exposing Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick became aware of these allegations more than a year ago.

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Politics
8:00 am
Wed November 16, 2011

The Week in State Politics

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
aflyingpsychofly Flickr

Every Wednesday we take a look at what's happening this week in state politics with Michigan Radio's Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry. On tap for today: Detroit Mayor Dave Bing is scheduled to address the financial crisis in his city this evening, the state House punts on creating a state-run health care exchange, and Democrats in Lansing release a jobs plan.

Commentary
11:08 am
Tue November 15, 2011

A Question of Guns

Yesterday was the twentieth anniversary of what was once a nationally famous tragedy; the post office shootings in Royal Oak, Michigan, in which five people died. This was one in a series of similar shootings, which left our language with the memorable term, “going postal.” The Detroit Free Press had an anniversary story about the event, together with the latest installment in their series “Living With Murder.” Well over 3,000 people have been murdered in Detroit in the last decade, almost all of them shot to death.

The newspaper looked at these killings and explored ways to try to stop them.  They wrote about neighborhood groups and citizens who go patrolling with the police.

Mayor Dave Bing said it was a problem of our young people getting “caught up in this violent culture,” and said we needed to stop showing disrespect for each other. I guess he thinks if we all do that and take a few moments to read the gospels, or maybe Martin Niemoller, we’ll be less likely to shoot strangers in the head.

Which may be true, but isn’t really very much of a practical solution. What was almost unbelievable to me, however, was that  there was no mention of doing something about the real problem: Guns. Disrespect doesn‘t kill people. Guns kill people.

Not every murder is committed with a gun. There will always be murders, at least until humans become extinct. But it would be hard to kill 21 people in a restaurant with an axe, and impossible to kill someone with a butcher knife who is three hundred yards away.

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Politics
8:32 am
Wed November 9, 2011

The Week in State Politics: Election edition

Michiganders went to the polls yesterday and elected mayors in three large cities, recalled a Republican state lawmaker and voted for a new city charter for Detroit. We spoke this morning with Michigan Radio's Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry about what the election results mean for the state.

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