Politics & Government

Politics & Government
1:54 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

Israeli and Palestinian supporters demonstrate in Michigan

An overflow crowd jammed a Southfield synagogue last night to show support for Israel in its latest conflict with Hamas.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Several thousand people turned out Wednesday night at a Southfield synagogue to show support for Israel in its current conflict in Gaza.

“We stand with Israel,” shouted one speaker.  

The overflow crowd cheered for local people with family members serving in the Israeli army in Gaza.

Speakers blamed Hamas for the conflict, which has cost nearly a thousand lives in the past few weeks.

“We feel for the victims on both sides. We want it to end. But we want Israel to be secure,” says Allan Gale, with the Jewish Community Relations Council.

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Politics & Government
1:45 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

Don't like the water shut-offs in Detroit? Now you can pay someone's overdue water bill

The water shutoffs in Detroit have been suspended, but you can still help some Detroiters pay their bills.
Credit Maegan Tintari / Flickr

The only time Kristy Tillman could fit in an interview was on her lunch break. That's because of the insane number of reporters emailing her.   

“We never expected the press to get so big! We’re just like, oh man. So we decided we’re going to probably limit the time on that today, so we can get real work done.”

All those reporters want to talk with her about the website she and friend threw online this past Thursday.

It's called Turn on Detroit's Water

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Politics & Government
11:06 am
Wed July 23, 2014

This U.S. District Judge turns 90 today, and he has no plans to stop hearing cases

This audio is pending
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35 years ago this spring, President Jimmy Carter nominated Detroit attorney Avern Cohn to be a federal judge.

High-tech meant IBM selectric typewriters back then.

Detroit had nearly twice its current population. The World Wide Web wouldn’t exist for more than a decade, and President Obama was a teenager still in high school.

Today, U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn turns 90. And he’ll spend the day, as usual, in federal court, where he still hears cases, full time.

“I get great satisfaction out of this,” he told me when I talked to him last week. “I’m happy. Every day is different. You are always learning something new. It is a job that keeps you young.”

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Politics & Government
5:41 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

Snyder: Pensioner approval of grand bargain sets Detroit up for faster recovery

One of the aims of the "grand bargain" is to protect artwork at the DIA from liquidation.
Credit Maia C/Flickr

Gov. Rick Snyder is praising Detroit pensioners for approving the city’s bankruptcy restructuring plan.

The so-called “grand bargain” is designed to prevent deep cuts to retirement benefits and protect city-owned artwork at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Snyder says the vote this week makes it more likely the city will emerge from bankruptcy soon.

“I really appreciate retirees taking that positive vote because it was hard,” he told reporters Tuesday at an appearance in Detroit.

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Stateside
4:07 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

Stateside for Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Today on Stateside:

·         It's the fourth anniversary of the Enbridge oil spill in the Kalamazoo River. How long will it be until the river is clean? Could it ever be truly clean?

·         39 years ago this week, Jimmy Hoffa disappeared. PBS is presenting a new documentary titled, “Who Killed Jimmy Hoffa?” It will feature retired FBI agent Greg Stejskal.

·         Oakland County native Liz Larin released a new CD titled “Hurricane” and she shared her music-making process with us on Stateside.

·         Members of Congress want to speed up the recall process and get problem vehicles repaired.

·         Detroit pensioners voted to accept the pension cuts in the Grand Bargain.

*Listen to full show above.

Stateside
2:04 pm
Mon July 21, 2014

Stateside for Monday, July 21, 2014

 Today on Stateside:

·         The Detroit Water and Sewage Department is  suspending water shut-offs for 15 days to give people a chance to prove they cannot afford their bills.

·         It’s the 50th anniversary of Abrams Planetarium at MSU. And in those 50 years, America’s space program has changed extensively.

·         One book follows a bear’s recovery in the Detroit Zoo from cruel captivity in a Caribbean circus.

·         Beaver Island hosts a classical music festival from July 25th to August 3rd called Baroque on Beaver.

·         Michigan’s post-secondary education graduation rates are below the national average.

·         How is the MEAP impacting schools and administrations?

*Listen to the full show above. 

Politics & Government
12:15 pm
Mon July 21, 2014

Forget left and right on water shut-offs. Let's figure out how to fix the non-payment problem

Update: The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department has announced a 15-day suspension of its controversial shutoff campaign.  

​Unless you’ve been completely out of touch, you know that the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department has been shutting off service to thousands of customers who haven’t paid their bills.

This has sparked huge controversy, protests and even condemnation from the United Nations. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes even got involved.

Last week, he told the deputy director of Detroit’s water department that shutting off water to city residents has, quote "caused not only a lot of anger in the city (but) also a lot of hardship."

And the judge added, "it’s caused a lot of bad publicity for the city it doesn’t need right now." That much is not in dispute. But not everyone is in agreement that this is an atrocity.

Kevyn Orr, Detroit’s emergency manager, supports the shutoffs, saying that the rule everywhere is that “if you use water, you have to pay for it.” He notes that there’s an assistance program, and says that if people are in trouble, “all they need to do is call.”

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Politics & Government
10:57 pm
Sun July 20, 2014

Top state House Dem: Road solution not likely before November election

State House Minority Leader Tim Greimel says a vote on road funding likely won't come until the Legislature's lame duck session.
Credit WKAR-TV

The top Democrat in the state House says a road funding solution will probably have to wait until after the November election.

State House Minority Leader Tim Greimel says too many lawmakers are not willing to make the tough vote until they’re past their reelection bids. That’s because boosting infrastructure spending by more than a billion dollars a year would likely mean raising taxes to pay for it.

“I think there’s a very high likelihood that it doesn’t occur until lame duck, unfortunately,” said Greimel, D-Auburn Hills, on an appearance over the weekend on the Michigan Public Television program Off the Record.

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Politics & Government
11:41 am
Sat July 19, 2014

Nurses rally against water shutoffs, declare "public health emergency" in Detroit

Actor Mark Ruffalo, center, joined the protest against water shutoffs in downtown Detroit.
Credit Kenny Karpov

Hundreds of protesters gathered near city hall in downtown Detroit Friday, to demand the city stop ongoing water shutoffs.

More than 17,000 Detroit households have had their water shut off for non-payment since March, though many have since had service restored.

City officials say the shutoffs are a necessary measure, because too many people simply don’t pay their bills--starving the water system of up to $100 million in revenues.

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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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It's Just Politics
12:11 pm
Fri July 18, 2014

Spying on candidates may be unsettling, but is it really such a bad thing?

It's Just Politics with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta

It's Just Politics with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta

Cue the James Bond theme as we take up electoral espionage. We’re talking campaign black ops. Political spying.

We learned this week that Republicans here in Michigan sent two young operatives equipped with a tiny video camera in a pair of glasses to infiltrate a Mark Schauer for Governor campaign event -- looking for whatever they might find. And what did they get? Found out.

Our ace operatives bungled the job. Dropped the disc with the video where it was found by Democrats. Who, then, made it public, including their brief conversation with Dem lieutenant governor candidate Lisa Brown.

Republicans didn’t deny the operatives were theirs.

Democrats and the Schauer campaign cried foul calling it sneaky, dirty tricks. They got some newspaper headlines. Effective messaging helped along by the fact that it fit did neatly into a narrative courtesy of some missteps -- or what seemed to be missteps -- by Governor Rick Snyder’s campaign.

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Politics & Government
7:00 am
Fri July 18, 2014

At Detroit conference, Biden tells activists the time is ripe to "bend history a little bit"

Vice President Joe Biden addresses the Netroots Nation conference at Detroit's Cobo Center.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Vice President Joe Biden told a crowd of activists Thursday that “we are at an inflection point in national and world history.”

Biden addressed the Netroots Nation convention at Detroit’s Cobo Center.

That group describes itself as a means to “amplify progressive voices by providing an online and in-person campus for exchanging ideas and learning how to be more effective in using technology to influence the public debate.”

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Stateside
5:53 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

A closer look at Aramark and the troubles with privatization in prisons

Credit Kevin Rosseel / morguefile

Sex with inmates - maggots in the food - smuggling drugs to inmates - undercooked or spoiled food.

When is enough "enough" with Aramark, the food service company hired seven months ago to feed inmates in Michigan prisons?

The privatization was supposed to save the state more than $12 million a year. But it's been a Pandora's box of troubles for state prison officials ever since Aramark took over last December.

Paul Egan of the Detroit Free Press Lansing Bureau joined us today. He has reported on all the problems associated with the Aramark contract. Egan said that so far, things are not getting any better.

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Politics & Government
5:44 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

State attorney general’s office unveils law guides for vets and military personnel

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette introduces new legal guides for veterans and military families Thursday in Detroit.
Credit Jake Neher / MPRN

Michigan veterans and active duty military families now have new resources to help handle legal issues. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette released two new legal guides Thursday.

“Sometimes trying to help veterans in transition coming back from a deployment, it can get a bit complicated,” said Schuette.

“It could be anything from child custody to divorce to employment issues, what have you. And so what we’re trying to do is put out a practical guide to try to help veterans across Michigan.”

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Politics and Culture
5:43 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

Stateside for Thursday, July 17, 2014

Today on Stateside:

  • The private company that provides food to Michigan prisons is in trouble again. Sex with inmates. Maggots in the food. Smuggling drugs to inmates.... When is enough "enough" with Aramark, the food service company hired seven months ago to feed Michigan's inmates?
  • The U.S. Senate dug deeper into GM's deadly recalls, demanding the automaker fire its chief lawyer and open its compensation plan to more potential victims.
  • Tomorrow afternoon at 4:06 is the one-year anniversary of the largest municipal bankruptcy filing in American history. Detroit News Business Columnist Daniel Howes talked with us about how this first year of bankruptcy has gone.
  • There's some encouraging news about home foreclosures in Michigan, but it's not all rosy. That's according to a midyear-2014 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report released today.
  • The news that state officials recently approved an expansion of a northern Michigan commercial fish hatchery got us wondering: how important are fish hatcheries in the Great Lakes state?

* Listen to full show above.

Weekly Political Roundup
5:19 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

How are leaders in Lansing reacting to Aramark problems?

Credit Thetoad / Flickr

Every week, we take a look at what’s happening in Michigan politics with Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

It’s been a rough couple of weeks for Aramark, the company that provides food services for Michigan prisons, which has come under a lot of criticism.

Prisons have complained of food shortages and maggots have been found in prison kitchens. There have also been a number of issues with Aramark employees smuggling contraband into prisons and just this week, four Aramark staffers were fired for having inappropriate contact with prisoners.

According to Demas, when the state of Michigan decided to privatize the food services in prisons, the objective of the governor and the Legislature was to save money and increase efficiency, but so far it has been marred with problems.

Meanwhile, Sikkema explains that when the initial discussions were taking place about the most effective ways to save money, privatization was more of a priority for certain legislators, and not necessarily that of the Department of Corrections. Sikkema elaborates that the operational costs have gone up significantly over the past several decades, and as a result, legislators have called for some form of privatization to scale back the spending.

After issues began to surface with Aramark following the contract, Demas asserts that the response of the state has been keeping tabs and trying to correct the mistakes, but so far, there has been no push to try and eliminate the contract.

“I do think it clearly raises a question, whether the savings, which are estimated to between $12 to $16 million a year in a $2 billion budget, are worth the problems that they’ve encountered: food issues, sanitation issues, high turnover of staff, sexual misconduct, smuggling of contraband like marijuana into the prisons; I don’t see the contract surviving if these problems continue” says Sikkema.

Omar Saadeh - Michigan Radio Newsroom

Politics & Government
1:22 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

Detroit clerk, Michigan Democrats debut online absentee ballot application

Detroit voters will now be able to access, sign and submit absentee ballot applications on their smartphones.

Detroit city clerk Janice Winfrey and Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lon Johnson announced the new initiative Wednesday.

Winfrey said it’s simply a matter of meeting voters where they tend to be these days—online.

“So why not? Why not be able to use their smartphone to request an absentee ballot?” Winfrey asked.

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Stateside
1:07 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

Detroit's bankruptcy, one year later

Credit JSFauxtaugraphy/Flickr

Tomorrow afternoon at 4:06 is the one-year anniversary of the largest municipal bankruptcy in American history.

Detroit News Business Columnist Daniel Howes has been talking with top business leaders in Detroit for a "temperature check" on how this first year has gone.

He said that the kind of leadership and coalescence that happened in the past year was something he’s never seen before in this community.

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Politics & Government
11:20 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

DIA secures $26.8 million in corporate pledges, reaches 80% of "grand bargain" goal

Credit Detroit Institute of Arts

The Detroit Institute of Arts is closer to fully funding its portion of the “grand bargain.”

The museum announced $26.8 million in additional corporate pledges today on Wednesday.

8 companies announced contributions. The Penske Corporation led the way with a $10 million donation, while both Quicken Loans/Rock Enterprises and DTE Energy chipped in $5 million.

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Newsmaker Interview
5:29 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

Central American children destined for Michigan?

Derrick McCree, Senior Vice President of Residential Services at Wolverine Human Services

There has been a recent influx of undocumented children who are crossing the Mexican border into the U.S. Many of these children hail from Central American nations where violence is prevalent. Recent news that some of these children could be housed here at a facility in Vassar, Michigan while awaiting immigration hearings has received mixed reactions.

Wolverine Human Services is an organization that owns and operates a facility in Vassar and might house some of the Central American children. Jennifer White, host of All Things Considered, is joined by Derrick McCree, senior VP of Wolverine Human Services.

McCree says as it stands right now, the contract is still under consideration by the Office of Refugee Settlement. The contracting company, Heartland Alliance of Chicago, Illinois, has been providing services for children in similar circumstances for the past 19 years. Due to the humanitarian crisis at the national level, Heartland Alliance reached out to other providers, particularly in Michigan, to inquire about providing assistance.

The services provided are essential, basic shelter services, medical care, education in the format of ESL, recreational activities, and trauma counseling. Heartland Alliance would cover the reunification fees to help seek relatives or family members within the U.S. where the child could stay while the court proceedings play out. If no family member or relative is located, the option of a foster family exists.

According to McCree, funding for the program comes from the federal government. And while there has been vocal opposition to the idea of housing children in Vassar, McCree says the Vassar community has been largely supportive, and he's heard from people who are interested in helping the Central American children. McCree says the children making their way to the southern U.S. border are escaping what are often very dangerous situaations, and they are in need of help.

Omar Saadeh - Michigan Radio Newsroom 

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