john conyers

Politics & Government
11:02 am
Sat July 19, 2014

Civil rights groups want to meet with Detroit officials about water crisis

Credit from the Congressman's Facebook page

Civil rights groups are asking to meet with Detroit officials about a controversial water shut-off campaign.

The ACLU and the NAACP want to meet with Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr to find a “fair, humane, and meaningful review process,” which would include adequate notice and a hearing to determine whether individual water customers can’t or won’t pay their bills.

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Politics & Government
7:10 pm
Sat June 28, 2014

Congressman appeals to Pres. Obama over Detroit water shutoffs

Rep. John Conyers seeks to stop the shutoffs for nonpayment. Conyers said in a statement Friday that actions represent "an overzealous and misguided approach to cost-cutting."
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Longtime Detroit Congressman John Conyers has sent letters to President Barack Obama and other officials requesting immediate action and relief regarding water shutoffs in the bankrupt city.

The Democrat seeks to stop the shutoffs for nonpayment. Conyers said in a statement Friday that actions represent "an overzealous and misguided approach to cost-cutting."

The water department, responsible for about $6 billion of Detroit's $18 billion in debt, is a major issue in bankruptcy.

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Law
7:00 pm
Fri May 30, 2014

Ruling that puts Conyers on the ballot also a victory for Michigan ACLU

The court ruling that put Detroit Congressman John Conyers back on the primary ballot is also a victory for voting rights advocates.

A federal judge recently declared a Michigan law that required petition circulators to be registered voters unconstitutional.

Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson’s office has now opted not to appeal.

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Politics & Government
4:29 pm
Fri May 23, 2014

Judge: Conyers will be on Aug. primary ballot

Veteran Congressman John Conyers’ name will appear on the August primary ballot. That’s the ruling of U.S. District Judge Matthew Leitman, who struck down Michigan’s requirement that only registered voters can circulate candidate nominating petitions.

Earlier today, Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson ruled that a problem with petition circulators threatened to bring an end to Conyers’ almost 50-year congressional career. Judge Leitman quickly followed with a ruling that requiring petition circulators to be registered voters violates free speech rights, and is not consistent with other court decisions. 

Also, Michigan does not have the same requirement for people who circulate petitions to put a question on the ballot.

Leitman issued an order that puts Conyers name into the Democratic primary, where he’ll face Detroit pastor Horace Sheffield.

If Conyers is reelected, the icon of the civil rights movement will be the dean of the House.

Politics & Government
2:14 pm
Wed May 21, 2014

Lawyers for Conyers argue to get back on ballot

Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) testifies at a hearing in 2009.
Credit Rep. John Conyers office / Flickr

DETROIT -- A Detroit judge says he might make a decision Friday in a dispute over whether one of the country's longest-serving congressmen gets on the primary ballot.

Several nominating petitions turned in by U.S. Rep. John Conyers have been thrown out because people gathering signatures weren't registered voters or put a wrong registration address on the petition. The Detroit Democrat doesn't have enough signatures.

Conyers' lawyers asked federal Judge Matthew Leitman on Wednesday to throw out a Michigan law that puts restrictions on circulators. But the judge questioned why critics would claim the law is a burden when the campaign believed it had followed it.

Leitman says he might rule Friday. He first wants to see what state election officials say that day about Conyers' candidacy.

Conyers has been in Congress since 1965.

Politics & Government
3:07 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

State opposes Conyers in lawsuit over election

Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) testifies at a hearing in 2009.
Credit Rep. John Conyers office / Flickr

DETROIT – The Michigan attorney general's office is urging a judge to stay on the sideline in the controversy over U.S. Rep. John Conyers' re-election campaign.

The Detroit Democrat has been barred from the August primary ballot because of problems with his petitions. He's appealing to the secretary of state's office and also asking a judge to throw out a law that sets rules for collecting signatures.

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Politics & Government
2:57 pm
Thu May 15, 2014

Conyers joins suit to get back on ballot

Credit Photography Courtesy of www.conyers.house.gov

DETROIT (AP) - Longtime Congressman John Conyers has joined a federal lawsuit taking aim at the requirement that petition collectors be registered voters.

Conyers joined the suit Thursday, two days after Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett determined he doesn't have enough signatures to appear on the Aug. 5 Democratic primary ballot.

The suit was filed against Garrett and Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson by the ACLU on behalf of two petition circulators and others. The signatures they gathered weren't counted because they hadn't complied with state voter registration requirements.

Conyers first was elected to the House in 1964. He represents Michigan's 13th district, including Detroit and several suburbs.

The ACLU also asked the court to order Garrett and Johnson to stop enforcing the law the group deems unconstitutional.

Johnson's office declined comment.

Stateside
9:29 pm
Wed May 14, 2014

Jack Lessenberry weighs in on the John Conyers ballot snafu

Congressman John Conyers.
Credit Photography Courtesy of www.conyers.house.gov

Congressman John Conyers turns 85 on Friday, but a petition-gathering snafu is likely not the birthday gift Conyers would have wished for.

He’ll be filing an appeal with the state after yesterday's announcement by Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett that Conyers did not have enough valid signatures on his nominating petitions to be on the August primary ballot.

Garrett says only 592 of the necessary 1,000 signatures are valid. Many signatures were disqualified because the people collecting the signatures were not registered voters. According to law, that voids the signatures they collected.

If his appeal to the state fails, Conyers is talking about mounting a write-in campaign for the primary.

All of this has those who have watched John Conyers since he was first elected to Congress in 1964 thinking about his "epic journey" through the decades, and what an ending to a career this could be.

Michigan Radio's political commentator Jack Lessenberry joined us today to talk about this.

*Listen to the interview above.

Politics & Government
5:28 pm
Wed May 14, 2014

Michigan congressman requests moratorium on foreclosures in Detroit

Congressman John Conyers is asking federal housing officials to issue a six-month moratorium on new foreclosures in Detroit.

The moratorium would only apply to home mortgages financed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac that were in good standing before the city filed for bankruptcy.

Conyers sent the request to the nation's new head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Melvin Watt.

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Politics & Government
9:11 am
Wed May 14, 2014

Detroit's 'grand bargain', minimum wage, and Conyers make political headlines

Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry and Christina Shockley discuss the grand bargain for the Detroit bankruptcy, the debate over the minimum wage and whether Detroit Congressman John Conyers has a chance to continue his nearly 50 years in Congress.

Week in Michigan Politics interview for 5/14/14

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Politics & Government
8:03 pm
Fri May 9, 2014

Report: Conyers "far short" of signatures needed to put him on the ballot

John Conyers

Longtime Congressman John Conyers is about 400 signatures short of what he needs to be on the August primary ballot.

The Detroit Democrat is seeking a 26th term in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he’s the second longest-serving member.

But Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett has now released a report that finds Conyers only got 592 valid petition signatures – far short of the 1,000 needed to get on the ballot.

Garrett ruled that hundreds of signatures were invalid because the petition circulators who gathered them weren’t registered to vote at the time.

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Opinion
11:23 am
Fri May 9, 2014

Voters deserve the best choices possible for Congress

Two years ago, voters in a suburban Detroit congressional district were stunned to learn that their congressman, Thaddeus McCotter, had failed to qualify for the primary election ballot.

Anyone running for Congress needs to submit 1,000 valid signatures to get on the ballot.

It turned out his staff had illegally and clumsily photocopied old petition signatures, instead of collecting new ones. McCotter not only retired, but abruptly quit before his term ended.

That left just one name on the GOP primary ballot: Kerry Bentivolio, known informally as “Krazy Kerry,” a reindeer farmer, Santa Claus impersonator, and failed high school teacher.

Bentivolio is now a congressman, and establishment Republicans are spending millions to try and dislodge him in this August’s primary.

Now it seems something similar has happened to John Conyers, a Democrat who has represented Detroit in Congress for half a century. Most of the signatures he submitted seem to have been collected by circulators who weren’t registered to vote.

One has a criminal record and is a wanted fugitive. It seems very likely that Conyers will not be on the ballot this year.

If so, it's possible that the only name on the Democratic primary ballot will be that of The Rev. Horace Sheffield, a longtime Detroit clergyman with a reputation of his own. Sheffield got his picture in the papers twice in February. Once when he announced for Congress, and once when he was booked on domestic violence charges.

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Politics & Government
6:47 pm
Mon May 5, 2014

Questions raised about Detroit city clerk's office after Conyers petitions snafu

Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey
Credit Sarah Cwiek / City of Detroit

Long-time Detroit Congressman John Conyers’ trouble with ballot petitions is raising some serious questions about the Detroit City Clerk’s office.

Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett announced last week that Conyers does not appear to have enough valid signatures to make the primary ballot.

That’s because two of his petition circulators registered to vote just last month. In Michigan, state law mandates that circulators be registered to vote at the time they gather signatures.

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Opinion
12:14 pm
Fri May 2, 2014

End of a career for Conyers?

If you like irony, think about this. Sixty years ago, the president of General Motors was nominated to be Secretary of Defense.

Today, we remember only one thing about “Engine Charlie” Wilson – his famous quote: “I thought what was good for our country was good for General Motors, and vice versa.”  Today, that would almost certainly have sunk his nomination.

Back then, it caused scarcely a ripple. Wilson died in 1961, and I wonder what he would say if he came back to life and learned that Chrysler was owned by the Italians, Ford was about to have a Jewish CEO and his beloved GM had not only gone bankrupt, it was now a much smaller company run by a woman. Oh yes, and by the way – the president of the United States is black.

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Politics & Government
8:45 pm
Wed April 30, 2014

Conyers says he has enough signatures for ballot

DETROIT – U.S. Rep. John Conyers says he has enough signatures for his name to appear on the August primary ballot despite a report that two circulators weren't registered voters when they gathered signatures.

The longtime Detroit Democrat said in a statement Wednesday that he's "pleased" the Wayne County clerk determined his campaign collected a sufficient number of signatures. The primary is Aug. 5.Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan RadioEdit | Remove

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Politics & Government
10:13 am
Wed April 30, 2014

The week in Michigan politics

Credit NOAA

Week in Michigan Politics interview for 4/30/14

This Week in Michigan Politics, Michigan Radio's Jack Lessenberry and Emily Fox discuss how Congressman John Conyers might not be in the August primary because of a problem in nomination petitions, how the state is running out of money to give to struggling schools, and how backyard farming might become more difficult in the months ahead.

Politics & Government
7:42 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

Congressman John Conyers' nominating petitions challenged

The 84-year-old Conyers first was elected to the U.S. House in 1964. He represents Michigan's 13th district, which includes Detroit, Ecorse, Romulus and Westland.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - A rival's challenge to U.S. Rep John Conyers' nominating petitions could keep the veteran Detroit Democrat from seeking another term in Congress.

The staff of the Rev. Horace Sheffield III filed a challenge Tuesday with the Wayne County clerk's office after a WDIV-TV  report that two Conyers' petition circulators weren't registered voters when they gathered signatures.

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Opinion
10:34 am
Thu February 27, 2014

We need to learn how to talk about the mental health of our aging representatives

Earlier this week, the newspapers and airwaves were full of tributes to John Dingell, who announced this term would be his last.

Dingell, who turns 88 this summer, is the longest-serving Congressmen in history, and when I first met him, was one of the physically most powerful men in Congress.

Today, he is hard of hearing and frail, but nobody has ever said he wasn’t mentally able to do the job.

This hasn’t always been the case with long-serving congressmen. During his last campaign for the U.S. Senate at age 94, South Carolina’s Strom Thurmond spoke of the brave defenders of the Alamo, and added that they had held off “three thousand Russians.”

Thurmond’s handlers didn’t let him speak much in public after that. He won reelection, but spent most of his final term in Walter Reed Hospital, except when they brought him to the Senate to vote.

Nobody likes to talk about this, but there seems to have been a universal consensus that Dale Kildee, who decided not to run for reelection two years ago, needed to leave.

There’s a reason you haven’t seen him interviewed or commenting on issues since he left. He is, in fact, younger that John Dingell, but not all of us age at the same rate.

I know a woman in her 60s who no longer knows who her husband is.

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Transportation
2:27 pm
Fri September 20, 2013

Willow Run Airport receives additional $12 million for runway renovations

Planes on the tarmac at the Willow Run Airport
Wikipedia

The U.S. Department of Transportation is giving the Wayne County Airport Authority a $12 million federal grant to renovate a runway at the Willow Run Airport, according to Congressmen John Dingell and John Conyers, Jr. and Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow.

This is on top of the $9 million in federal funding awarded to the airport in July. This additional $12 million will go towards the repaving of runway 05R/23L.

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Opinion
9:19 am
Thu August 22, 2013

The farce of presidential impeachment

Lessenberry commentary for 8/22/2013

I was a college student almost forty years ago when the U.S. House Judiciary Committee voted to impeach President Richard Nixon. I watched those proceedings and hung on every word.

Many, perhaps even most people did. I remember crowds clustered around television sets in department stores at particularly dramatic points in the testimony. When the members finally voted to recommend impeachment, many of them did in voices breaking with emotion. They knew this was an almost unimaginably huge step.

The congressmen knew that only one other President had been impeached in history – Andrew Johnson, more than a century before. They also knew that history had judged very harshly those congressmen and senators who supported removing that president, and praised those who managed to stop his conviction.

Impeachment, those congressmen knew, was the nuclear option in American constitutional democracy. In the end, President Nixon resigned before he could be impeached, convicted, and removed from office, as he surely would have been.

I thought that would be the only attempt at impeaching a president I would ever see, and I was, of course, wrong. Twenty-five years later, the house actually impeached President Clinton for what really amounted to lying about sex. The senate never came close to convicting him, and the entire episode was seen as low farce.

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