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A poster shows how an adjusted SMART route will serve an Amazon warehouse in Shelby Township starting in September.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Macomb and Oakland counties’ leaders want the public to support a millage renewal for regional bus service that will be on the ballot this summer.

Mark Hackel and L. Brooks Patterson also want their constituents to know that millage has nothing to do with a plan to expand transit through the Southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority (RTA) — a body both men say they now favor abandoning in favor of strengthening that existing regional bus service, the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART).

A SMART bus.
SMART

At one point, Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel was a big proponent of the Southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority, and its potential to coordinate and boost the region’s lackluster, fragmented transit systems.

But Hackel now seems to have soured on the prospect of more and better transit, and on the RTA itself, just as Wayne County is making a push to put a transit millage before voters in November.

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Lansing needs to step up and provide adequate roads funding or else tell local governments they’re on their own, Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel said Monday.

Hackel blasted the Michigan Legislature’s 2015 “fix” that raised fuel taxes and driver registration fees, but generates far too little revenue for the state’s actual infrastructure needs. He made those remarks as Macomb unveiled a new online resource about county road conditions, and what it will cost to fix them.

The "Big Four." From left: Mark Hackel, L. Brooks Patterson, Mike Duggan, Warren Evans.
Detroit Economic Club / via Twitter

This year’s gathering of Metro Detroit’s “Big Four” political leaders highlighted more points of division than unity.

Those leaders are Wayne County Executive Warren Evans, Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.

A spirit of regionalism did not prevail at this year’s event, held annually at Detroit’s North American International Auto Show. And the future of regional transit was a major source of contention.

Wikimedia Commons

Southeast Michigan regional leaders have been meeting for months to develop a new regional transit plan, but at least one of those leaders says there’s nothing he can get behind yet.

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel says there’s no reason to build any system that relies on buses, suggesting those systems will soon be “obsolete.”

YouTube screengrab

Fiat Chrysler has announced it will shift production of heavy-duty Ram trucks from Mexico to metro Detroit by 2020.

Fiat Chrysler says the move will bring Ram production to the Warren Truck Assembly Plant, along with a $1 billion investment and 2,500 new jobs. There will also be a $1.5 billion investment in the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant to build the next-generation Ram 1500 truck, creating an additional 700 new jobs.

The automaker also announced it will give one-time, $2,000 bonuses to its U.S. employees.

Macomb County Circuit Court
Macomb County

A Macomb County Circuit Court judge could decide Monday whether a case against embattled county clerk Karen Spranger will move forward.

County officials have accused Spranger of lying about her address when she filed to run for office last year. If the case proceeds, a judge will decide whether there's enough evidence to legally disqualify Spranger from office.

"If the courts come back and say 'Nope, everything's fine,' then so be it -- she's the clerk, and we'll have to deal with the challenges we face or have been facing," Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel said.

Construction near the site of the sinkhole on the Fraser-Clinton Township border in Macomb County.
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Macomb County will have to spend an extra $5 to $10 million to fix a major sinkhole on 15 Mile Road in Fraser. County officials say a lawsuit is to blame.

Sterling Heights is suing the county to avoid paying an estimated $22 million to help repair the sinkhole, claiming it was the county’s fault it occurred. It is one of ten cities in the sinkhole’s drainage district.

The Big 4 on the big screen at Cobo Center. Left to right: Mark Hackel, L. Brooks Patterson, Mike Duggan, and Warren Evans.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Metro Detroit’s “Big Four” had their annual public gathering at Detroit’s auto show today.

The four leaders are the Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb county executives, and Detroit’s mayor. It’s usually a mostly feel-good conversation about regional cooperation.

And indeed, they did talk about that and a range of other issues. But the leaders also couldn’t avoid the topic of the hour: Warren Mayor Jim Fouts.

Leaked audio tapes seem to show Fouts making incredibly degrading comments about African-Americans and disabled people, among others.

From left to right: Macomb County County Executive Mark Hackel, Warren Mayor Jim Fouts, and Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller
From left to right: Macomb County government, City of Warren, GOP.gov

Metro Detroit's infamous Macomb County might be "the most politically craziest county in Michigan, if not the planet."

The sinkhole in Macomb County.
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

A massive sinkhole in central Macomb County is “an incredibly large challenge” with a “potentially incredibly expensive fix,” Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller said Wednesday.

Turning the alleged Fouts tape into a teachable moment

Dec 20, 2016

There is a leaked audio tape that has caused a sensation in political circles in the Detroit area. The language is raw, shocking and horribly vile, and, for once is not about sex.

A voice that sounds very much like that of Warren Mayor Jim Fouts complains that quote, “while on Fridays in the past I would be going to meet some women, tonight I am meeting with a group of retards. Tonight is retard night.” 

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles / creative commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0, cropped

The mayor of Warren is defending a social media post that caused some panic and confusion among residents this week.

In a Facebook post late Wednesday, Jim Fouts referenced a “major environmental scandal brewing in Macomb County” that “could be a mini version of what happened in Flint.”

Following the post, Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel says his office was flooded with calls about the safety of the area's drinking water.

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Hackel scolded Fouts for stirring up panic.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Metro Detroit’s “big four” leaders got together for their annual public chat before the Detroit Economic Club at the North American International Auto Show Tuesday.

This year, two big topics dominated the conversation: the Flint water crisis, and the impending financial collapse of Detroit Public Schools.

Each of the leaders — Wayne County Executive Warren Evans, Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan — said Gov. Snyder had mishandled the state’s response to Flint’s drinking water contamination.

Wikipedia

Some Michigan county law enforcement agencies must return surplus military gear to the US government, and they’re not happy about it.

Macomb County is one of three in Michigan to get an armored personnel carrier through a former federal program that transferred unneeded war gear from federal to state and local agencies.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Macomb County officials say they’re being unfairly criticized for a jail inmate’s death.

County Executive Mark Hackel vigorously defended Sheriff Anthony Wickersham and jail staff on Thursday.

His comments came after the release last week of a harrowing video that showed David Stojcevski’s slow death in the Macomb County jail.

Mark Hackel of Macomb

Jul 30, 2015

I spent some time yesterday in Mount Clemens talking with Mark Hackel, who four and a half years ago became the first executive Macomb County has ever had. You’d have a hard time finding anyone as enthusiastic about any county anywhere as Hackel is about Macomb.

A certain fact in politics: it is never too soon to start thinking about elections; particularly if you want to win them.

2016, 2018, 2020…

man at whiteboard
detroitmi.gov

Troubles with a new regional water system, uncertainty about roads and mass transit, and ongoing budget difficulties—all were topics among Detroit’s “Big Four” leaders Tuesday.

The Big Four includes the heads of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties, along with Detroit’s mayor. In recent years, they’ve met held an annual public meet-up to discuss regional cooperation and other issues in southeast Michigan.

Welcome to our post-Independence Day edition of It’s Just Politics and, today, we’re talking Independents.

This week, Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel let it be known he wants the “D,” for Democrat, stripped from the column alongside his name in the Macomb County directory. Hackel told The Macomb Daily that he doesn’t think being a Democrat, or a Republican for that matter, really makes a difference in his job as county executive. And, that he doesn’t really consider himself a party person.

This certainly isn’t the only incarnation of Hackel’s independent streak. He has refused to endorse the presumptive Democratic candidate for governor, Mark Schauer. Nor, will he utter an unkind word about Governor Rick Snyder; and he’s been silent on the controversial right-to-work law.

But this latest episode did prompt a statement from Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lon Johnson, who embraced Hackel and praised his service to the Democratic Party.

We should be clear: Hackel is not making noises about leaving the Democratic Party. But there is a history in fickle Macomb County – Michigan’s hotbed of political disharmony – of Democrats bailing.

via flickr

Oakland County is helping neighboring Macomb County get back online after a fire last week.

That suspected electrical fire seriously damaged Macomb’s IT department—shutting down phones and computer networks.

So Oakland County is offering Macomb staff, equipment and space to start re-building.

“Oakland County has opened up its data center to host Macomb County’s equipment and personnel on a temporary basis in order to get Macomb County back online,” says a press release from Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson’s office.

Detroit Economic Club

Metro Detroit’s “Big Four” met up for their annual public conversation at Cobo Hall in Detroit Thursday.

The group is made up of the Wayne county executive Robert Ficano, Oakland county executive L. Brooks Patterson, and Macomb county executive Mark Hackel, plus Detroit mayor Dave Bing.

The event usually stresses regional cooperation and all-around good feelings between the four leaders.

(flickr blueeyes)

Macomb County executive Mark Hackel says a privately owned casino could boost business along the county's waterfront on Lake St. Clair.  The Macomb Daily reports: Mark Hackel said he plans to reach out to local communities to see who might be interested.