Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

  FLINT, Mich. (AP) - Michigan Governor Rick Snyder says he's reaching out to Flint's Latino community to make sure residents are getting bottled water and filters during the city's lead-contamination crisis.

  The governor on Friday visited Our Lady Guadalupe Catholic Church, where volunteers are distributing water and filters to the church's predominantly Latino parishioners.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Hillary Clinton is bringing her presidential campaign to Flint Sunday.

But her rival for the Democratic presidential nomination is also setting up shop in town this weekend.

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders will top the Democratic side of Michigan’s presidential primary next month.

Michigan Legislature
Matthileo / Flickr

Former Michigan Teasurer Robert Kleine added another layer to the debate about what caused the Flint water crisis. Decisions made by Flint’s emergency manager led to the water crisis, but Kleine says the EMs aren't given enough tools to fix the problems in these struggling cities.

Gov. Snyder signs a bill that secures $28 million in aid to Flint on January 29, 2016 in Grand Rapids.
Gov. Snyder's office

In the coming months, there will continue to be much debate and discussion over the Flint water crisis. Who made the wrong decisions, and who knew what, when?

What about a discussion about the way Gov. Rick Snyder’s team, and the governor himself, have handled what has been a public relations nightmare?

Matt Friedman, the co-founder of Tanner Friedman Strategic Communications, joined Stateside to give some expert analysis and critique on the public relations side of the water crisis, starting with a missed opportunity by Gov. Snyder and his team.

  •  A public relations expert tells us what he thinks Governor Snyder should be doing in light of the Flint water crisis.
  • We learn why cities kep
Lt. Gov. Brian Calley at a news conference in Flint, Michigan.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan Lt. Governor Brian Calley declined to answer questions about calls for Governor Rick Snyder to resign. 

Democrats say the Republican governor should step down because of his handling of the Flint water crisis.

If he did, Calley would become governor.

In Flint today, Calley declined to speculate on Snyder resigning.

“I know the governor is completed committed to seeing this through,” he said.

Governor Snyder speaking at a Flint water press conference on January 27, 2016.
SnyderLive

Gov. Snyder spoke at a morning meeting of the Flint Water Interagency Coordinating Committee.

His remarks come after revelations that one of his top aides knew about an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in Flint and its possible links to the Flint River, almost a year before Snyder says he found out about it.

Thetoad / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Legislative hearings are underway on a plan to keep Detroit Public Schools from going broke.

Bills in the state Senate would commit more than $700 million from the state to restructure Michigan’s largest district and help pay down its crushing debt.

Lawmakers serving on the state Senate Government Operations Committee acknowledged repeatedly that the stakes are high.

Karen Blaha / flickr creative commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The public might not get to see a new plan to test and track a toxic groundwater plume that's been spreading for years in the Ann Arbor area. 

Pall Corporation is responsible for the dioxane plume. It developed and submitted the monitoring plan to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality – and marked it "confidential."

Bob Wagner, chief of the MDEQ's Remediation and Redevelopment Division, said department officials are asking Pall to explain why the company thinks the plan should be treated confidentially.

  • If you're a police officer in the U.K., you might go your entire career without ever seeing a gun. Compared to what London Metropolitan Police Constable Michael Matthews is used to, Detroit is "a completely different world."
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

High levels of lead in their drinking water have Flint residents relying on cases of bottled water for just about everything.  

It may come as no surprise that thousands of those residents have stopped paying their water bills.  

And that presents both questions and problems.    

Last week, Lynna Kaucheck handed a stack of papers to a staffer outside Flint’s mayor’s office.

Foreclosure sign
Jeff Turner / Michigan Radio

A Detroit woman is fighting to win back her home of 40 years.

Wayne County foreclosed on Mary Sanders' home over about $1,200 in unpaid taxes and fees.

The home was purchased for $2,300 in a tax auction last fall by Chris Meyer, a California-based developer who owns CDM Real Estate, Inc., in Ann Arbor.

Sanders says she was unaware she owed outstanding taxes. Sanders, 80, also qualified for tax exemptions based on her age and income that she says she was not informed about.

Congressman Dan Kildee
Photo courtesy of the Office of Congressman Dan Kildee

The Flint water crisis has come to Capitol Hill as Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., was one of the first to testify today before the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The hearing seeks to find out how the city’s drinking water was contaminated with elevated levels of lead.

Shortly after his testimony, Rep. Kildee spoke to Cynthia Canty on Stateside, and said he hopes the facts of the situation are brought to light.

The Michigan House of Representatives in Lansing
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

A bill meant to clarify what civic and school officials can tell residents about local ballot measures is moving forward in the state House.

School districts and local governments have been bashing a new law that limits what they can say about local proposals 60 days ahead of an election. They’re calling it a “gag order.”

The witnesses called to testify before Congress today.
screen shot YouTube

The House Oversight & Government Reform Committee chaired by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, held a hearing titled, "Examining Federal Administration of the Safe Drinking Water Act in Flint, Michigan."

Rep. Dan Kildee, D-MI, kicked things off in the first panel laying most of the blame for the crisis on the State of Michigan.

From his testimony:

  • Flint's water crisis had its first Congressional hearing today before the House Oversight Committee. Detroit Free Press Capitol Hill reporter Todd Spangler was at the hearing.
  • First to testify at today's hearing was Flint's Democratic Congressman Dan Kildee. He joined Stateside from Washington.
  • Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss delivered her first State of the City address last night.
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The state of Michigan’s emergency manager law has received considerable criticism in the wake of the Flint water crisis. The concept of the state moving in to take power away from local officials to fix a financial crisis is not new. In fact, Public Act 72, known as the Local Government Fiscal Responsibility Act, was passed in 1990.

Jack Lessenberry.
Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry talks about the bill to prevent teacher sickouts in Detroit; how Detroit Public Schools emergency manager and former emergency manager of Flint Darnell Earley has stepped down ,and refused to testify in a Congressional hearing about Flint's water crisis; and proposals to replace lead pipes in Flint, and where the money will come from to make that happen. 


(l to r) Joel Beauvais, Office of Water, EPA - Keith Creagh, Director, MDEQ - Marc Edwards, Virginia Tech - Lee Anne Walters, former Flint Resident
screen grab YouTube

Today, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a hearing titled, "Examining Federal Administration of the Safe Drinking Water Act in Flint, Michigan."

The hearing started at 9:00 a.m. and adjourned just before 1 p.m.

Watch part one of the hearing below. U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-MI, testifies before the committee. Read his statement to the committee here.

Chalkboard
user alkruse24 / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Bills meant to crack down on teacher “sickout” protests are moving forward in the Michigan Senate.

The bills would define the sickouts as illegal teacher strikes in state law. The protests have closed dozens of Detroit schools in recent weeks.

A legislative panel approved the legislation on Tuesday while adding more teeth to the bills. New language would temporarily block unions from representing teachers and collecting dues in districts where sickouts are happening.

IvanWalsh.com / flickr creative commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Hearings are underway in the State House this week on two opposing bills about fish farming in the Great Lakes.

One bill, sponsored by Michigan Rep. Jon Bumstead, R-Newaygo, seeks a total ban on commercial net pen aquaculture in Michigan Great Lakes waters and connecting rivers.

"I don't know how you can regulate 200 tons of fish just dumping manure in the Great Lakes," said Bumstead.

Bumstead said waste from fish farms threatens Michigan's multi-billion dollar fishing, recreation and tourism industries.

Detroit Public Schools

The controversial emergency manager of the Detroit Public Schools will step down at the end of this month, Gov. Snyder’s office announced Tuesday.

Snyder faced growing pressure to get rid of Darnell Earley.

Calls for Earley’s resignation as head of DPS reached a fever pitch in the past several weeks, as teachers staged sick-out protests over the district’s crumbling buildings and finances, and the Detroit Federation of Teachers filed a lawsuit demanding his removal.

kconnors / morgueFile

State lawmakers say they’ve reached a deal to increase speed limits on some Michigan roadways.

On Tuesday, a state House panel is expected to vote on bills that could set speed limits on some highways as high as 75 miles-per-hour. The bipartisan bills would set speed limits based on studies that show how fast most drivers already travel.

Lawmakers were considering going as high as 80 miles-per-hour. But that plan stalled – in part due to safety concerns.

Detroit Land Bank Authority

Most Detroit homeowners should see more relief on their property tax assessments this year.

The city has worked to bring tax assessments more in line with real housing values in the past couple years.

Now city officials say more than 90% of homeowners should see further reductions this year.

Karen Johnson-Moore lives in northwest Detroit, an area that should see up to 15% reductions in most neighborhoods.

A screen shot of the map below.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Ever since the state admitted there was a problem with Flint's drinking water, we all have been waiting for more information about how bad – how widespread – the problem might be.

Dearborn Mayor John B. “Jack” O’Reilly, Jr.
(courtesy City of Dearborn)

When Republicans pushed through a campaign finance bill at the end of last year’s Michigan Legislative session, it was met with little resistance. In fact, many would be hard-pressed to remember what exactly the bill was attempting to fix. 

The provision, which was added just hours before the last session of the year closed, banned any public body or most public officials from using public money to spread factual information about local ballot measures in the 60-day run-up to an election. 

Cle0patra / Flickr

(This story was updated at 9:55am on February 2, 2016) 

Michigan's open primary is on March 8th. 

Michigan Radio's senior political analyst Jack Lessenberry stops by Stateside to explore the nuances of  Michigan's 2016 primary with host Cynthia Canty.

Lessenberry thinks Michigan could play a major role in choosing the presidential nominees of one, or both parties this year. Others agree, including the Hillary Clinton campaign, which this weekend called for adding a Democratic debate with Senator Bernie Sanders in Flint just ahead of the primary. 

Photo courtesy of Inforummichigan.org and Peplin Photographic (larrypeplin.com)

The Flint Receivership Transition Advisory Board has been overseeing Flint since Jerry Ambrose, the city’s last emergency manager, left last April.

The state says the goal of the RTAB is to put the city on a path toward good financial health and return full control back to the city government.

So where does the process of returning power to the city’s elected leadership stand?

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

State lawmakers start hearings this week on Gov. Snyder’s plan to prevent the collapse of the Detroit Public Schools.

Lansing’s discussions start as the city of Detroit released another round of safety and health inspections of some of the district’s crumbling school buildings this past weekend.

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