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Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint officials will try again tomorrow to decide whether to approve a new water contract.

But a federal judge may take that decision away from them.

The Flint city council met for three long days last week, examining the proposed 30-year contract with the Great Lakes Water Authority. They will gather again at 10 a.m. tomorrow.

Detroit brought in new voting equipment for 2017 elections after rampant problems with 2016 vote.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Wayne County Board of Canvassers will meet on Tuesday to review Detroit’s election tallies.

The board must certify the results that day to meet a state deadline.

Detroit elections officials say they’re confident the November 7 election results will be made official, despite some reported irregularities with absentee ballots, and lingering doubts over the city clerk's botched handling of the 2016 general election.

injured piggy bank
Ken Teegardin / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The state's savings account wouldn't last long if there was another economic downturn. That's according to new analysis from the Citizens Research Council.

The independent government watchdog says Michigan's "rainy day" fund is slowly recovering after it was drained during the Great Recession, but the state is still unprepared for a new downturn.

This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss what needs to happen to get Michigan's piggy bank back in shape.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A major obstacle to Flint’s recovery from its drinking water crisis has been removed.

The city of Flint has been hobbled in its efforts to remain on its aging water system by its inability to repay more than $20 million borrowed from the Drinking Water Revolving Fund (DWRF).  

Mackinac Bridge
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

This week, Enbridge Energy reported the protective coating has worn off of it's Line 5 pipeline in more spots than previously revealed. Line 5 is the oil and gas pipeline that runs under the straits of Mackinac. The new report says there were 8 spots of bare metal and seven of them will be repaired before winter sets in. A state commission has called Enbridge to testify next month.

Michigan Radio's Morning Edition host Doug Tribou and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about possible solutions.

The incomplete Wayne County jail.
Wayne County

The Detroit City Council on Tuesday put a short-term hold on plans to start a land swap that could provide a new location for the Wayne County jail.

The three-party property exchange would set that plan in motion.

Right now, a half-finished jail is sitting on a piece of downtown Detroit real estate that developer Dan Gilbert wants. The project has been sitting idle since 2013, when Wayne County abandoned initial plans because of cost overruns.

Commission delays LGBT bias decision, again

Nov 14, 2017
Allen Allen / Flickr Creative Commons HTTP://MICHRAD.IO/1LXRDJM

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission has tabled a request to interpret the state civil rights act to include protections for the LGBT community. The vote was 7-0, with one absent.

Yesterday was the second time since September that the commission has voted to delay a decision on a request made by Equality Michigan for an interpretation of whether sexual orientation and gender identity may be included under the state ban on sex discrimination. 

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Macomb County Commissioners are turning to a rather obscure state law to help them get the county clerk's office back on track, and possibly remove County Clerk Karen Spranger.

The commissioners hope this state law will force Spranger to answer questions about the way she's running her office, and about the many problems that have piled up since the Republican clerk took office in January.

Macomb County Commissioner Leon Drolet joined Stateside today to give us the latest.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A top city official admits there has been a “learning curve” after the city of Flint took over bottled water distribution from the state two months ago.

Flint distributes more than 65,000 cases of bottled water a week, comparable to what the state was doing before it handed the job over to the city in September. The city is working with local churches, the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan and United Way of Genesee County to manage the water distribution program.  

Flint City Clerk Inez Brown administers the oath of office to the new Flint city council members.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

“I do solemnly swear,” intoned City Clerk Inez Brown, as she led the nine members of the Flint city council through their oath of office.

The new city council were sworn in today at noon. Five of the nine council members are new to the job.  Last week, Flint voters ousted a majority of incumbents from the panel.   

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver suggests voters wanted the new blood on the council to move beyond old arguments.

Was last year’s Trump-wave a one-time deal? This past Tuesday’s election results are a hint at what might be in store for Election 2018.

Democrats pretty much ran the table last week in Virginia and New Jersey so Republicans have to face some tough political truths. That President Donald Trump has a very low approval rating. That voters upset with him were motivated to get out and vote. And, that it’s tough in mid-terms to be the party that controls the White House and Congress.

City of Flint emblem
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

At noon today, the new Flint city council is sworn in. It could signal a change in the city’s long debate over where its tap water should come from.

Last week, Flint voters elected five new people to the city council. They replace five council members who have fought, in court and out, against signing a 30-year contract with the Great Lakes Water Authority.   Flint has been getting its tap water from the authority on a temporary contract since it turned off the tap to the Flint River.

Beitler Real Estate Services

Monday night, the Lansing city council will begin reviewing a plan to sell city hall to a developer.

Mayor Virg Bernero picked a Chicago real estate developer to turn the site of Lansing city hall into a hotel.    Beitler Real Estate Services was one of four bidders.

Bernero says the company’s $42 million City Hall development plan was the overwhelming favorite of the city’s internal and external review teams. The plan includes the construction of a new City Hall.

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley
Michigan House Republicans

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley handed over the leadership of his part-time Legislature ballot drive to conservative grassroots activists Friday, as he prepared for an expected 2018 campaign for governor.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Congress is working on tax reform. Earlier this week, we heard about the effort from Republican member of Congress Fred Upton. Today, Stateside talked with Democratic Congressman Dan Kildee.

The former Hudson's site, prime real estate along Woodward in the heart of downtown Detroit, has been a city-owned underground parking garage since the Hudson's building was demolished in 1998.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit has a city ordinance that requires most big project developers to negotiate benefits packages with neighborhood groups.

But some members of those groups say the process has been a sham so far. They’re calling on the Detroit City Council to give the ordinance more teeth.

Detroit voters approved one of two competing community benefits agreement last year.

A table filled with bottles of Flint water (both clear and brown)
Flint Water Study / Facebook

Governor Rick Snyder has signed a spending bill that includes more money to prosecute members of his administration for their roles in the Flint water crisis.

The $600,000 will go to state Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office. State Health and Human Services Department Director Nick Lyon and Chief Medical Executive Eden Wells are among those charged.

“It is paying for prosecutions," said Andrea Bitely with the attorney general’s office. "It is paying for expert witness fees. It is paying for travel expenses. It is paying for any number of things.”       

REPUBLICAN CONFERENCE / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

House Republicans are positioning their sweeping tax bill for a planned floor vote next week. 

Garlin Gilchrist II may seek a recount in the Detroit city clerk's race.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Garlin Gilchrist II, who narrowly lost the Detroit city clerk’s race to incumbent Janice Winfrey Tuesday night, says he may petition for a recount.

Gilchrist was leading the vote tally for most of election night. But Winfrey surged ahead at the very end, squeaking out a win with just over 50% of the vote.

That could be due to Winfrey dominating the absentee ballot returns, which tend to be counted last.

mr.smashy / Flickr

The state Senate has adopted bills that would allow concealed pistols in schools, churches, and other places where they are currently banned. The bills also forbid the open carrying of firearms in those places.

State Sen. Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-Olive Twp., says he thinks people are actually less safe in an area where concealed guns are not allowed.

“It’s a target-rich environment for people that don’t abide by the law, and people should have the ability to protect themselves, wherever they are,” he said.

Karen Spranger
Screen grab taken from Karen Spranger's Facebook page

Updated: 11/9/17

The Macomb County Board of Commissioners has once again said "no" to the county clerk's request for money for a private attorney.  Karen Spranger asked for $15,000 for a private attorney earlier this year, and she asked for $100,000 on Tuesday.

Spranger is involved in so many lawsuits it's hard to keep track. 

She's being sued by two former employees that she fired after they allegedly blew the whistle on her ethics violations. She's being sued by one of the unions that represents her employees. And she's being sued by the county.   

Today on Stateside, Gordie Howe's son recalls growing up with Mr. Hockey. Also today, we contextualize some election results and learn how a Harbor Springs boarding school worked to erase Odawa culture until the 1980s. 

graffiti saying "vote"
Flickr user H2Woah! / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

Michigan Radio's Morning Edition host Doug Tribou, and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss some of yesterday's election results.

Mike Duggan celebrates winning a second term as Detroit mayor.
Duggan for Detroit / via Twitter

It wasn’t even close.

As expected, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan coasted to an easy re-election victory Tuesday night, defeating State Sen. Coleman Young II with over 70% of the vote.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver scored a double win on Tuesday.

Kevin Lau / FLICKR - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Something Michiganders talk about all the time? Roads. But do you know who’s in charge of our roads, or who owns them? Listener Phil Arbour was thinking along those lines.

He sent this question to our MI Curious team:

“How is road ownership broken down in Michigan?"

Arbour said he wanted to know how the roads are divvied up by federal, state, county, township, and village.

Stateside brought in Aarne Frobom with the Michigan Department of Transportation to explain.

Today on Stateside, we learn who is responsible for what roads in Michigan. We also hear how auto insurance costs can vary wildly depending on which side of the street you live. And, we talk to the filmmaker of a new documentary that chronicles the highs and lows of Detroit rapper Danny Brown.

person writing on paper
LucasTheExperience / Flickr

A package of bills in the Michigan House would punish petition circulators who mislead or lie to petition signers about their causes.

HB 5208-5214 would make it a misdemeanor for circulators, or the organizations work for, to make false statements in order to get signatures.

Wikimedia Commons

More problems plague the food in Michigan’s prisons. This time it’s maggots.

An investigation by The Detroit Free Press found three separate incidents over the summer of maggots in the food at a Jackson-area prison.

This isn’t the first time there have been complaints against Trinity Services Group. Last May the liberal advocacy group Progress Michigan obtained reports that a different facility had maggot-infested potatoes.

Food service has been outsourced for about five years now.

Come next January, Lansing's going to have itself a new mayor for the first time in a dozen years. Today on Stateside, outgoing mayor Virg Bernero reflects on his legacy. Also today, from mailers and commercials to donations, we hear why tracking all of the money in local elections is not easy. And, can soul food be vegan? We learn why Detroit restaurateurs say yes as they serve up meatless favorites.

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