Politics & Government

Weekly Political Roundup
5:00 pm
Thu July 24, 2014

ACA ruling and its impact on Michigan

Credit Jimmy Emerson / Flickr

This week two separate federal appeals court rulings came down on opposite sides of a key provision in the Affordable Care Act. This leaves thousands of low and middle income Michiganders who signed up for healthcare through Michigan’s exchange in a bit of limbo. 

Jennifer White, host of All Things Considered, is joined by Marianne Udow Phillips, Director, Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants. 

Phillips states that although these rulings were issued nothing is going to change immediately and that it is important to understand that the legal rulings will take time to play out. 

“It would have a huge impact and it would really push the whole system into chaos,” explains Phillips. “There are 240,000 in Michigan who have already gotten health insurance coverage through the health insurance exchange with a subsidy, and so were they to lose that subsidy, almost all of them would not be able to afford healthcare coverage.” 

Sikkema states that it is a very polarizing topic and coupled with an election year, politicians and candidates have honed in on the issue. “It already is a big political issue; it’s the primary political issue for Republicans who are running for office” says Sikkema, “but it’s really hard to look in your crystal ball and see what the future of the Affordable Care Act is going to be.”

Politics & Government
3:46 pm
Thu July 24, 2014

State board rejects petition to raise Michigan's minimum wage to $10.10 an hour

Credit sushi ina / flickr

A state elections board has rejected a petition to raise Michigan’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour in a 3 to 1 vote.

The Board of State Canvassers says the campaign failed to collect enough valid signatures to move forward.

John Pirich is with the group opposing the minimum wage proposal. He praised the board for throwing out dozens of duplicate signatures.

“I’m 100% confident that what we’ve shown them in terms of duplication will be confirmed by any review of any of them.”

Groups that support raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour could challenge the decision in court. They say the elections board went out of its way to throw out petition signatures.

*This post has been updated.

Politics & Government
11:25 am
Thu July 24, 2014

State elections board approves petition to allow wolf hunting in Michigan's UP

A wolf in a snow storm at the Seney National Wildlife Refuge.
Larry McGahey Flickr

A petition that would allow future wolf hunts in the Upper Peninsula is headed to the state Legislature.

The initiative would allow the hunts regardless of how two anti-wolf hunting referendums turn out.

A state elections board approved almost 300,000 petition signatures for the proposal today.

State lawmakers have 40 days to pass the measure. Otherwise, it will go on the statewide ballot in November.

Bob LaBrant is with the group that gathered the signatures. He says it’s clear the Legislature supports wolf hunting and will approve the measure.

“We think the Legislature, who’s already dealt with this subject twice only to be frustrated by referendums, will prevail in the end.”

The petition could still be challenged in court. Opponents of wolf hunting say it deals with too many issues unrelated to wolf hunting.

*This post has been updated.

Stateside
4:32 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

Stateside for Wednesday, June 23, 2014

Today on Stateside:

  • Governor Snyder signed a law to raise the minimum wage in May, however the fight is not over. "Raise Michigan" is pushing to get a ballot measure in place for the November election. They want to increase the minimum wage more.
  • Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta from Michigan Radio’s ‘It’s Just Politics’ talk about the GOP’s spy scheme. Was it really foul play?
  • Grand Valley State University’s president, Thomas Haas, joined us to take a look back at the Exxon Valdez oil spill. What have we learned 25 years later?
  • Coleman A. Young was Mayor of Detroit from 1974 to 1994. Even though it's been more than 20 years since he was Mayor, and over 16 years since he died, there's a common narrative that Coleman Young was the cause of Detroit's financial ruin. Is he really to blame?
  • Should we tear it all down, or take a closer look to see what is worth preserving? Alan Brake from Architects Newspaper and Brian Farkas from the City of Detroit Building Authority tackle that question about Detroit’s blight in Stateside.
  • We’ve got snorkeling, surfing, and scuba diving. Now you can add Stand-Up Paddling, or SUP, to your list of activities to try on Michigan’s waters.

*Listen to the full show above. 

Stateside
4:32 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

Michigan Democrats call foul play on Republican spying

Spy glasses wearer checks his specs in the bathroom.
Credit Michigan Democratic Party / YouTube

By now you've probably heard the chuckling, the snickering and Democratic growling over that pair of young Republican "operatives."

The ones who turned up at a Mark Schauer fundraiser at a private home in Bloomfield Hills.

One of the pair wore fake glasses with a tiny video camera built into the frame.

It might have gone undetected but for the fact the memory card of their "Secret Squirrel" mission somehow turned up on the floor of a union hall in Farmington Hills two weeks later.

Democrats immediately posted the eight-minute video, wherein we learned little more than the facts that Natalie Collins, the Republican staffer who wore the glasses, doesn't like having her photo taken when she's eating pineapple and she didn't think much of the artwork at the home.

Have a look at the video of the training sessions with Republican would-be spies. Video released by the Michigan Democratic Party.

Democrats cried "foul, dirty tricks!" And Republicans shrugged and said, well, everyone does it.

Michigan Radio's It's Just Politics team of Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta shared their thoughts with Stateside.

*Listen to the full interview with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta above. 

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.

Read more
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

Read more
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

​ 

Thirty-five 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.”

Read more
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.

Read more
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.”

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.”

Read more
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.

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