mackinac policy conference

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder joined us on Stateside from the Mackinac Policy Conference to talk about minimum wage, the economy, and other issues being covered at the conference.

Then, Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes joined us.

*Listen to the full interviews above. 

The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

  The 2014 Mackinac Policy Conference began today at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.

Political and business leaders are gathering to discuss the major issues and challenges facing Michigan, and to hear from guest speakers.

Statewide elections are just five months away, so both parties have a lot of work to do between then and now.

We got the views from the Michigan leaders of both parties.

Joining us from Mackinac Island, we welcomed the chair of the Michigan Republican Party, Bobby Schostak, and the chair of the Michigan Democratic Party, Lon Johnson.

*Listen to the interviews above.

More than 1,500 statewide businesses, government and community leaders will be at this year’s Mackinac Policy Conference, May 28 through May 30.

The conference will feature speakers, stakeholders and panelists discussing issues in STEM education, workforce development, public policy, and more.

You can join a live chat and screening for two sessions with two of Detroit's top leaders: Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, and Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr.

The chat and screening will take place on a social screening platform called OVEE (Online Video Engagement Experience).

Watch and discuss Mayor Duggan's keynote address today at 4:45 p.m. by clicking here. You can also add this event to your calendar.

And you can watch and discuss Kevyn Orr's keynote address on Friday, May 30, at 9:45 a.m. by clicking here, or add it to your calendar.

Flickr user borman818

In this Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry and Christina Shockley discuss the passage of a new minimum-wage bill and the Mackinac Policy Conference.

XGamesDetroit / YouTube

Imagine the streets of Detroit running rampant with car races, motocross competitions, skateboarding, and other insanity. 

That's what the organizers of ASSEMBLE pictured when they created this video to convince ESPN to choose Detroit as the new home for its summer X Games. 

Despite the epic video, ESPN chose Austin for the games. But the energy and the spirit of the campaign lives on in ASSEMBLE, a group that aims to use community engagement to rebuild Detroit.

One of the recent efforts of ASSEMBLE is offering a way for new voices to become a part of important policy conversations in Michigan – the kinds of conversations that happen at the upcoming Mackinac Policy Conference put on by the Detroit Regional Chamber.

For those of you who can't afford the $2,700 ticket, ASSEMBLE@Mackinac(ish) could be for you. 

Garret Koehler and Kevin Krease, the co-creators of ASSEMBLE, and they joined us to share what exactly ASSEMBLE@Mackinac(ish) hopes to accomplish. 

*Listen to the full interview above. 

– Paige Pfleger, Michigan Radio Newsroom

There’s no denying that some elements in the so-called Tea Party have been scaring moderate and independent voters away from the Republicans. But if Democrats think it is going to be easy to defeat Governor Rick Snyder, and make big gains in next year’s statewide elections, they may be guilty of self-deluding themselves.

I didn’t go to the Republican Party’s annual leadership conference on Mackinac Island last week, though I followed it closely. And I think that there were hints at Mackinac of two major stories emerging on the horizon.

Thirty-four years ago, when Debbie Stabenow was a newly elected state representative in a very male-dominated legislature, she got the first of a number of encouraging notes from an older woman who had spent a lot of years in the fishbowl of politics.

Those notes meant a lot to Stabenow, as she went on to become a force to be reckoned with in first the state house and then the senate; in Congress and  finally in the U.S. Senate.

What made that support all the more remarkable is that Stabenow is a Democrat. And the woman who reached out to her was the wife of the Republican governor, Helen Milliken, perhaps the least likely and most effective feminist in Michigan history.

There were, in a way, two conferences taking place among the state’s business and political elite on Mackinac Island last week. One was a celebration of Michigan’s comeback from the darkest days of the great recession, and of the new business-friendly climate flourishing under Governor Rick Snyder.

Make no mistake about it: Richard Dale Snyder is the most business-oriented governor this state has had since World War II. That’s in large part because he is a businessman.

He speaks their language. During his closing remarks, the governor sounded like a motivational speaker sent out to fire up a sluggish sales force.  “What’s the role of government?” he asked, answering, “Government exists to give you great customer service!”

This week we are taping It's Just Politics at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Policy Conference on Mackinac Island. This is an annual statewide event where business people and politicians come to plot the future of Michigan. Big shots. Serious stuff. Except, of course, for the iced-vodka luge.

Really this is Rick Snyder’s party. Most of the people that attend the conference are his people: Moderate, but right-of-center business folks, impressed by cutting taxes and balanced budgets.

Two years ago at this conference, the Governor had only been in office for six months and, in his words, “working in dog years."  One Tough Nerd came to the conference with a state budget done in record time; nothing like the budget gridlock we saw in a couple showdowns in the Granholm years (2007 and 2009 were doozies). Also, in that six months, Snyder had gotten a couple big wins on tax policy and it sure seemed like he was simpatico with the Legislature’s Republican majority.

Basically, the 2011 Mackinac Policy Conference was Rick Snyder’s jam.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

On Saturdays, Michigan Radio's Rina Miller checks in with our political analyst, Jack Lessenberry.  

This week, Lessenberry attended the Mackinac Policy Conference.

He says one of the takeaways this year is that the business community is happy with the state's direction.

"[They are] encouraged by the direction in which Michigan is going. They're very happy in general with Governor Synder, but there's a lot of concern about education," Lessenberry said.

Education was discussed more this year than in past years.  

Mark Schauer's run

The Detroit Regional Chamber's Annual Mackinac Policy Conference wrapped up on Thursday. Jennifer White was on the island and talked with two members of Mothering Justice, a left-leaning advocacy group that works on issues important to mothers and families.  

Here’s something I’ve noticed about education reform. Whenever anybody proposes anything, people tend to react in a knee-jerk fashion based as much on whom the speaker is as what they say. I noticed this yesterday, when I told a variety of people that former Washington, DC schools chancellor Michelle Rhee would be a keynote speaker at this week’s Mackinac Island conference. Teachers especially take a jaded view of Rhee.

They see her as anti-union, and are especially skeptical of her push for merit pay. I myself have had a somewhat jaded view of Rhee for different reasons. There is a fair amount of evidence that many of her claims have been exaggerated.

I was not impressed when her lobbying group, Students First, poured money into an unsuccessful knee-jerk attempt to fight a complex local recall election in Michigan two years ago. But Michelle Rhee said a lot of things to the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce’s conference yesterday that liberals and conservatives all need to hear. She began by noting that this may well be the first generation of Americans who will be less educated than their parents – which, if true, ought to frighten all of us.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Michelle Rhee advocates for Common Core

Michelle Rhee spoke yesterday at the Mackinac Policy Conference in favor of maintaining the Common Core curriculum in Michigan. According to the Associated Press,  

“Rhee is a self-described lifelong Democrat who has clashed with teachers' unions, one of the party's key constituencies. During her speech, she called for honoring the teaching profession but demanding more accountability and rewarding the best teachers with more pay.”

Michigan woman killed in Syrian conflict

33 year old Nicole Lynn Mansfield of Flint, Michigan has been killed while fighting for the Syrian opposition movement.

“Speelman's mother Monica Mansfield Speelman tells the Detroit Free Press that her niece was a convert to Islam who married an Arab immigrant several years ago but later divorced him. Syrian news reports say that Mansfield and two other westerners killed with her were fighters for the opposition to Syria's government and were killed in a confrontation in Idlib,” the Associated Press reports. 

Michigan universities produce young entrepreneurs

A new report from the Anderson Economic Group states that Michigan’s three largest universities produce twice as many entrepreneurs as the national average.  According to Rick Pluta,

“The report says almost half of the new businesses started by college grads have been started or acquired in Michigan. University officials say they’ve revamped their curriculum in recent years to encourage entrepreneurship among students.”

Chrysler-Group / flickr

It's Thursday, time for our weekly check-in with Detroit News Business Columnist Daniel Howes.

He's up at the Mackinac Policy Conference today and it seems he got some interesting insights into how the financial and investing world views the Detroit auto companies.

He joined us to tell us all about it.

Listen to the full interview above.

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

It’s day-two on Mackinac Island at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s annual policy conference.

Rick Pluta, Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network, has been in attendance, and he said there has been a lot of focus placed on education reform.

“All of this is happening under the backdrop of an education budget that was just sent to Governor Snyder that basically stalled enactment of the Common Core Standards," Pluta said. "The national standards are supposed to make sure that every state and every school are measuring student performance in the same fashion."

The other piece of legislation that is stalled right now is the expansion of the Educational Achievement Authority, which is only operating in Detroit right now. Some lawmakers want to expand it statewide.

Pluta says there's a lot of pressure on the Legislature right now.

He joined us from the Mackinac Policy Conference to tell us more about education and other topics being discussed at the conference.

Listen to the full interview above.

If you live in Michigan there’s a good chance you’ll head up north this summer, or maybe west to bask in the sun on Lake Michigan, but if you’re still not sure where to escape this summer, we have some fun tips on hidden vacation gems you are sure to enjoy.

And, Rick Pluta gave us an update on the Mackinac Policy Conference.

And, Daniel Howes shared his insights on how the financial and investing world views the Detroit auto companies.

MIVote

MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich. (AP) - Education reform crusader Michelle Rhee says Michigan is making progress toward improving its schools but has more to do.

Rhee is the former chancellor of the Washington, D.C., public schools and founder of an advocacy group called StudentsFirst. She spoke Thursday during the annual Detroit Regional Chamber policy conference at Mackinac Island.

Rhee is a self-described lifelong Democrat who has clashed with teachers' unions, one of the party's key constituencies. During her speech, she called for honoring the teaching profession but demanding more accountability and rewarding the best teachers with more pay.

She also supports school voucher programs, which are unpopular with many Democrats who believe they drain money from public schools.

Rhee praised Michigan's Educational Achievement Authority, which was created to improve the state's lowest-performing schools.

Watch her speech here (scroll one hour in):

Steve Burt 1947 / Flickr

Michigan Radio's State of Opportunity team has been covering the research around early childhood education and the role it plays in a child's development.

That topic was discussed at the 2013 Mackinac Policy Conference this morning.

The Legislature and Governor Snyder have shown interest in boosting early ed programs in the state, but how much should they commit, and what kinds of programs work?

Michigan Radio's Jennifer White led a panel discussion on early education in Michigan.

Watch the discussion below (scroll five minutes in):

Panelists included:

Carla D. Thompson, vice president for program strategy, W.K. Kellogg Foundation

Rob Grunewald, economist, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis

Bob Harbison, board member, Smart Start Oklahoma

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush did a number of things on Mackinac Island yesterday. He managed to completely pack the Grand Hotel’s auditorium as the first major speaker of the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce’s annual conference.

He made some connections for what could be—could be—a run for the presidency three years from now. He gave intelligent and well-thought out perspectives on education and immigration reform.

But he also illustrated the huge dilemma facing today’s Republican Party, especially on immigration. Bush artfully sketched out the outlines of a policy that would actively encourage more immigrants, especially those who are well-educated and have needed skills. He would take us from a policy where most immigration is done for family reunification to one based on our nation’s economic priorities. That would seem to make a lot of sense.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Jeb Bush endorses school choice at Mackinac Policy Conference

"Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush told a large business and political conference on Mackinac Island that Michigan and other states should clear the way for more charter and online schools. He also urged Michigan to stick with the Common Core education standards," reports Rick Pluta.

Michigan Democrats push for marriage equality

Yesterday, Democrats in the Michigan state senate announced their intent to introduce legislation repealing the state’s same-sex marriage ban.

"Democratic Sen. Rebekah Warren of Ann Arbor says polling shows more Michiganders support gay marriage than just a year ago. She also said that married couples enjoy a host of legal protections, and removing Michigan’s ban would ensure gay couples can be legal parents to their adoptive children," according to the Associated Press.

Snyder comments on sale of DIA collection

"Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder says he hopes Detroit’s financial crisis doesn’t force emergency manager Kevyn Orr to sell off items from the collection of the Detroit Institute of Art... Orr says the DIA’s collection could face sale if Detroit seeks bankruptcy protection...Snyder said yesterday at the Mackinac Policy Conference that the DIA is ‘important to the livelihood of the city" and that "the goal is not to sell the assets of the DIA in a wholesale fashion,’" the Associated Press reports.

NPR.org

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush says Michigan should pursue more charter schools and online learning as part of the state’s efforts to improve education.

He also asked state lawmakers to stick with common national standards to measure student performance.

The Michigan Legislature’s Republican majorities just approved a school aid budget that forbid spending to enact the Common Core standards developed by the nation’s governors. Some conservatives say the standards hand over Michigan’s education policy to a national consortium.

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.

The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Michigan's business and political power-makers have gathered today on Mackinac Island.

Today is the opening day of the Detroit Regional Chamber's big annual policy conference.

There will be plenty of speeches and panel discussions about the economy, education, health care and a wide range of other policy issues?

And just as importantly, the Conference is a chance for politicians to network, to schmooze, and to drum up support and donations.

Michigan Radio's "It's Just Politics" team of Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta are on Mackinac to track all of this. They joined us today to talk about it.

Listen to the full interview above.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

I'm sure you won't want to watch the ENTIRE conference, but you might want to catch parts of it.

Here's the agenda. Find what you're interested in and come back to watch.

Thanks to Detroit Public Television for this livestream:

The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The Mackinac Policy Conference is officially underway as of 1 p.m. today.

Here's the livestream:

It sometimes seems that education reform has become a lot like the weather.  We talk almost incessantly about it these days, but you have to wonder if anybody really can do much to change things.

The Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce’s annual Mackinac Conference begins today, and education is a heavy focus. Michelle Rhee, the controversial founder of StudentsFirst and the former head of Washington D.C. public schools will give a keynote address. There will be a panel on 21st Century jobs and education, and another, moderated by Michigan Radio’s Jennifer White, on early childhood education.

NPR.org

MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich. (AP) - Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will be the keynote speaker at the 2013 Mackinac Policy Conference in May.

The Detroit Regional Chamber's annual conference brings together politicians and business leaders on Mackinac Island. The chamber says Bush will talk about education, immigration and economic growth.

Bush is the son of former President George H.W. Bush and brother of ex-President George W. Bush. He was Florida's Republican governor from 1999 through 2007.

I heard some interesting ideas about our economic future on Mackinac Island last week at the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce's annual conference of the state's movers and shakers. 

Two days ago, a beaming Gov. Rick Snyder opened the annual conference of our state?s economic and political elites on an upbeat note. He cited the official themes the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce set for their annual Mackinac Conference. "Innovation, Collaboration and the Twenty-First Century Global Marketplace." Those are things he himself is all about.

Whether you agree with his positions or not, this governor wants what he thinks are rational policies aimed at giving this state a future. But the morning after his triumphant welcome, the governor had to again admit defeat over an issue that shouldn't even be an issue: Road funding. Too many Michigan roads are in poor shape, and a whole lot more are rapidly getting worse. Earlier this year, the Michigan Department of Transportation estimated ninety per cent of our roads are in good or fair condition, which seemed too high to me.

But the state also calculated that unless we start investing far more heavily in our roads, only 44 percent will be in acceptable shape a mere eight years from now. That would be a disaster.

Brother O'Mara / Flickr

Hoekstra responds to "birther" questions at Mackinac Policy Conference

Republican Senate hopeful Pete Hoekstra responded to a question from MPRN's Rick Pluta about his publicly stated support for a "3-person" federal office that reviews whether presidential candidates meet minimum requirements to run for office. From the Detroit Free Press:

...host Rick Pluta of Michigan Public Radio put [Hoekstra] on the defensive over a controversy that arose Wednesday after remarks Hoekstra made about whether Obama was born in the U.S. and qualified to hold the office of president.

Hoekstra responded saying:

...it was "an absolutely ludicrous discussion to be having" after Obama has been president for four years. "They raised the issue; I didn't," he said of the tea party group. "They thought it was important. I don't."

With most state lawmakers gone, business is the focus on Mackinac Island

Lawmakers certainly discuss business as well, but Michigan Radio's Zoe Clark and MPRN's Rick Pluta talked about a different vibe on Mackinac Island on their It's Just Politics episode this week.

State lawmakers typically attend the Mackinac Policy Conference, but with budget negotiations going on in Lansing, most are absent.

"State lawmakers are not here, and because state lawmakers are not here, lobbyists are not here," said Pluta. "And if lobbyists are not here that means there's not this cadre of people who are buying drinks and meals...and hosting hospitality suites, so it's a little quieter, it's a little tamer."

Clark points out that some of the people she spoke with don't miss the lawmakers. Pluta says "business people are gettting together and talking business" at this conference.

A new State Fair in Michigan?

There's no state funding involved in this fair, so some are saying it can't really be called a "State Fair." Organizers of the "Great Lakes State Fair" say they're not trying to duplicate the old Michigan State Fair, but they are attempting to bring in similar events. From the Detroit Free Press:

The new event will feature many of the elements found at typical fairs: a midway, carnival rides, livestock and produce exhibits, a beer tent and entertainment.

The event will take place from August 31 through September 3 at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi.

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