Politics & Government

Politics & Government
2:09 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

Frugal Holland takes on biggest one-time debt for natural gas plant

The new natural gas plant will replace Holland's aging coal fired power plant (pictured).
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

The city of Holland will issue $160 million in bonds to build a new power plant. It’s the biggest bond offering the city, the public school district or the city’s publicly owned utility has ever issued.

Holland is home to a huge population of conservatives whose families emigrated from the Netherlands. That's why the city is known for its Tulip Time festival, historic windmill, wooden shoes, and as Holland Mayor Kurt Dykstra puts it, being frugal.

Read more
Politics & Government
10:24 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

Duggan: Car insurance, blight, buses among top issues in first State of the City

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan is proposing a city-run insurance company to help bring down astronomical premiums.
dugganfordetroit.com

City buses that pick you up when they’re supposed to. Parks that are open to the public, where the grass is cut and the trash is picked up. And car insurance that doesn’t cost more than your car.

Sound like modest proposals? Maybe in most cities. But Detroit is not most cities. And those are some of the promises made by Mayor Mike Duggan, in his first State of the City address tonight.

Read more
Politics & Government
5:40 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

Potholes spur debate over road funding

Terrible roads have lawmakers asking for emergency money, and the governor renewing his call for long-term funding.
Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

Lawmakers in the state House want to more than double the amount of emergency money for Michigan roads being ripped apart by nasty winter weather.

Last week, the state Senate approved $100 million to help fix potholes and plow roads. On Wednesday, a state House panel added another $115 million dollars for roads to the bill.  

“I think people are going to look at that and say that’s the way we’re giving back to the public – better roads as quickly as possible, a lot of it going to locals,” said Rep. Joe Haveman, R-Holland, who chairs the House Appropriations Committee.

Read more
Politics & Culture
5:30 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

Stateside for Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014

Attracting skilled immigrants is good for the economy, right?

Gov. Snyder has proposed a plan to attract 50,000 highly skilled immigrants to the state. It's a plan that would require them to live and work in Detroit as a way to help boost the city’s economy, but some say we’re not doing enough for immigrants already here. On today's program: What can our state do to keep the immigrants who are here while attracting new immigrants?

Then, we all take shortcuts right? Just think about your walk to work, or to the store. Do you cut through a parking lot, or cut across an empty field? Well, there is so much vacant land in Detroit that is exactly what people are doing. So much so, that you can see their tracks from Google Earth. Later in the hour we’ll explore Detroit’s urban footpaths.

But first we talk about how the defense spending cuts will affect Michigan.

Stateside
5:28 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

Will defense cuts kill Michigan's 'Warthogs'?

An A-10 Warthog.
user foqus Flickr

Earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel unveiled his latest budget proposal. And it is clear that as the drawdown in Iraq and Afghanistan continues, the Obama administration's priority is now reducing military size and spending.

Secretary Hagel declared that budget reductions cut “so deep, so quickly, that we cannot shrink the size of our military fast enough.”

For instance, the active-duty Army would shrink to its smallest level since just before the U.S. entered World War II. There would be base closings, troop cuts, trimmed salary increases, and the complete elimination of several Air Force aircraft fleets.

That includes the A-10, an aircraft that dates back to the Cold War.

The A-10, also known as "The Warthog," was designed to take out Soviet tanks.

Twenty-four of America's 300 Warthogs are at Selfridge Air National Guard Base near Mt Clemens in Macomb County. Eliminating that fleet would be a gut punch to Selfridge.

Here to explain is Detroit News Washington Bureau Chief David Shepardson.

Listen to the full interview above. 

Stateside
4:53 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

Why this Michigan tax reform is getting bipartisan support

The State Capitol.
Lester Graham Michigan Radio

An interview with Kathleen Gray and Jonathan Oosting.

When Governor Snyder pushed through a repeal of the the personal property tax — aka the PPT — in late 2012, it was seen as a good step towards encouraging businesses to set up and expand in Michigan.

But local governments took it right on the chin. As the PPT phased out, many were in line to lose a significant source of revenue.

But there's good news for municipal officials worried about a great big hole in their budgets.

A package of bills has been introduced in the State Senate that would plug that hole, without having to revert to anything like the PPT, which Governor Snyder called "the second-dumbest tax" in Michigan.

And this package seems to have just about everyone on board, including both Democratic and Republican lawmakers.

Here to tell us more is Kathleen Gray from the Detroit Free Press, and MLive’s Jonathan Oosting.

Listen to the full interview above. 

Stateside
4:32 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

Does Snyder's immigration plan leave some out?

Detroit's skyline.
Peter Martorano Flickr

Rick Snyder has been one of the most enthusiastic governors in pressing Congress and the White House for immigration reform.

He recently proposed a plan to attract 50,000 highly skilled immigrants to Michigan, essentially "rolling out the red carpet" to attract immigrants to fill vacant technology, engineering, medical and health care jobs in Detroit.

His plan would require immigrants to live and work in bankrupt Detroit, using their skills in science, business or the arts to help power the city back to health.

But some believe the governor's plan overlooks the immigrants who are already here, people who might be able to use a little of that support. And what about immigrants who might not possess an engineering or science degree, but have energy and an entrepreneurial spirit – are they being slighted by the governor's plan?

Here to discuss the future of Michigan’s immigrant population is Steve Tobocman, director of Global Detroit, and Nikki Cicerani, president and CEO of Upwardly Global, a resource for skilled immigrants.

Listen to the full interview above.

Politics & Government
8:41 am
Wed February 26, 2014

Same-sex marriage, the Dingells, and manufacturing hub make political headlines

Michigan Capitol Building, Lansing, Michigan
Thetoad Flickr

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry and Christina Shockley talk about the same-sex marriage trial in Michigan, the new Dingell race for Congress and President Obama’s announcement of a new manufacturing hub in metro Detroit.

Week in Michigan Politics interview for 2/26/14

Read more
Stateside
4:25 pm
Tue February 25, 2014

Detroit bankruptcy reorganization plan in place; what's the next move for stakeholders?

Lester Graham Michigan Radio

It's been five days since emergency manager Kevyn Orr released the bankruptcy reorganization blueprint, which maps out a way to wipe out billions in debt, spend over half a billion in tearing down abandoned buildings and invest one billion to improve city services.

Now that all stakeholders have had a chance to digest the blueprint, the battle lines are being drawn.

Detroit Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley joined us today to give us a look ahead.

Listen to the full interview above.

Stateside
4:20 pm
Tue February 25, 2014

'Main Street Fairness' legislation would add sales tax to online orders

Online shoppers don't have to pay sales tax if the company does not have a physical store in Michigan.
psmag.com

Michigan's new state treasurer, Kevin Clinton,  is calling for Michigan residents to pay the state's 6% sales tax on Internet purchases.

Right now, online shoppers in the state don't have to pay the sales tax to companies that don't have actual stores in Michigan, like Amazon or Overstock.com.

There are currently bills in the state Legislature known as "Main Street Fairness" legislation that would change that.

So will you soon have to pay sales tax on your Amazon purchases? Chad Livengood, Lansing reporter for the Detroit News, joined us today to try and answer that question.

Listen to the full interview above.

Politics & Culture
4:19 pm
Tue February 25, 2014

Stateside for Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014

We've almost all done it – you might have even done it just today: Made a purchase online.

But have you ever wondered why you have to pay sales tax on online purchases from some retailers like Target, but not others, like Amazon? There's new legislation in Lansing that might change that. We found out more on today's show.

Then, close your eyes. Now, picture a farmer. What comes to mind? You probably pictured a man, but more women are raising crops now in Michigan. We took a look at what's behind the rise in female farmers.

And, it was the most infamous event of one of the most painful and divisive times in Michigan's history. A new play at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History explores the Algiers incident which occurred during the Detroit riots. 

First on the show, it's been five days since emergency manager Kevyn Orr released the bankruptcy reorganization blueprint, which maps out a way to wipe out billions in debt, spend over half a billion in tearing down abandoned buildings and invest $1 billion to improve city services.

Now that all stakeholders have had a chance to digest the blueprint, the battle lines are being drawn.

Detroit Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley joined us today to give us a look ahead.

Politics & Government
2:23 pm
Tue February 25, 2014

Reports: Debbie Dingell to run for her husband's seat in Congress

Debbie Dingell.
Wayne State University

A day after Rep. John Dingell (D-Michigan) announced that he will retire at the end of his term this year, it appears that Debbie Dingell will announce Friday that she will run for her husband's seat.

Both the Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press say sources are telling them Debbie Dingell will announce her intent to run this Friday.

John Dingell hinted at her intentions during his retirement announcement yesterday.

"If she runs, I will vote for her,"  John Dingell said.

More from Kathleen Gray at the Detroit Free Press:

Debbie Dingell, 60, is the other half of one of Washington’s most powerful political couple. She has been a member of the Democratic National Committee for years, is a member of the Wayne State University Board of Trustees and has held high level positions with General Motors.

She will have about eight weeks to collect at least 1,000 valid signatures from voters in her district to qualify for the ballot.

Detroit bankruptcy
11:46 am
Tue February 25, 2014

LIVE CHAT: Tom Sugrue takes your questions about the future of Detroit

Tom Sugrue
Department of History University of Pennsylvania

Tom Sugrue wrote the book "The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit."

Sugrue is a Detroit native and a professor of history and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. He will be one of the keynote speakers at this Thursday's Detroit Policy Conference.

Detroit Free Press business writer John Gallagher, an author of a few books on Detroit himself, is hosting an online chat with Sugrue at noon today.

Sugrue recently told Gallagher that he leans "toward the pessimistic side" on the continuum of views about the future of Detroit.

Jump in the conversation below. They'll start at noon today.

Politics & Government
8:07 am
Tue February 25, 2014

In this morning's headlines: John Dingell retires, same-sex marriage trial, manufacturing hub

Morning News Roundup, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011
User: Brother O'Mara Flickr

Longest-serving congressman from Michigan retires

John Dingell, the longest-serving congressman in American history has announced his retirement. "There may still be a Dingell in the race," Steve Carmody reports. "Debbie Dingell, the congressman’s wife, is seen as a favorite in a potential race."

Same-sex marriage trial starts today in Michigan

Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage will be debated in federal court starting today. The case involves a lesbian couple from Detroit who are raising three adopted children, but can't jointly adopt the children.

President Obama to announce manufacturing hub in Detroit

"President Barack Obama will announce today the creation of two Pentagon-led institutes that will bring together companies, federal agencies and universities to work on technologies that can boost manufacturing. The institutes in Chicago and near Detroit fulfill Obama's 2013 State of the Union promise to create three manufacturing hubs with a federal infusion of $200 million," the Associated Press reports.

Politics & Government
6:01 am
Tue February 25, 2014

Democrats ponder politics after Dingell

Rep. John Dingell announced Monday he would not seek another term in Congress. So who should run to replace him?
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

U-S Rep. John Dingell's retirement is setting in motion something new for some southern Michigan Democrats: A primary race.

Pity Lon Johnson. He’s the first state Democratic Party chairman without a John Dingell on the ballot since 1932. John Dingell Jr. announced Monday he would not run for reelection to the seat that he and his father, John Dingell Sr., have held in Congress for more than 80 years.

Still, Johnson is confident that a Democrat can win what has been a Democratic-leaning district.

Read more
Politics & Government
6:00 am
Tue February 25, 2014

Defense budget proposal may affect Michigan

A-10s provide close-air support for U.S. and coalition ground troops throughout Afghanistan.
Staff Sgt. David Carbajal U.S. Air Force

Michigan may stand to gain and lose in the proposed U.S. Department of Defense budget plans.

The budget plan Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel laid out yesterday cuts spending on what’s seen as old Cold War hardware and spends more money on "21st century weapons".

Read more
Stateside
5:10 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

Jack Lessenberry reflects on Rep. John Dingell's announced retirement

Rep. John Dingell announcing his retirement at a lucheon today.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

"I am not leaving Congress. I am coming home to Michigan."

With those words, Rep. John Dingell, D-Michigan, has announced he is leaving Congress after serving more than 58 years.

Dingell was first elected in 1955 to the House seat that had been held by his late father.

The 87-year-old Dearborn Democrat has gone on to carve out his own piece of American history: No one has ever served longer in Congress.

Michigan Radio political commentator Jack Lessenberry joined us to talk about Dingell's legacy.

You can listen to our conversation with him below:


Politics & Culture
5:03 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

Stateside for Monday, Feb. 24, 2014

It's been a miserable winter this year for everyone, but how does the polar vortex affect Michigan's dairy farmers? Karen Curry, a dairy farmer from East Tawas, joins us today to discuss the unique hardships she has faced this winter.

This winter doesn't just mean cold weather for Michigan residents. For some, it means an increased susceptibility to sickness. How do you protect against sickness? Vaccines. However, fewer Michigan parents are vaccinating their children.

Gender and medical historian Jacqueline Antonovich has extensively studied our history  and is here to talk a bit about the subject.

Next we go to Sochi, where the 2014 Winter Olympics are wrapping up. How did we fare? NPR's Sonari Glinton joins us from Sochi to recap this year's Olympic games. 

Back in Michigan, we speak to a mime who has trained Olympic athletes in the art of physical acting and emoting – athletes that include gold medal ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White, among others. He tells us some of the tricks to his trade. 

Next, a group at Michigan Tech has created a newspaper called Beyond the Glass Ceiling, which speaks to the campus culture and attitudes towards women over in Houghton, Michigan.

PhD student Katie Snyder joins us today to explain what the paper hopes to say to fellow students, faculty, and administrators.

Politics & Government
3:30 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

U.S. Rep. John Dingell's time in Congress to end, announces retirement

John and Debbie Dingell at today's luncheon.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Update 3:30 p.m.

President Obama issued this statement in response to Dingell's announcement:

Serving nearly six decades in the House of Representatives, John Dingell has earned the distinction of being both the longest-serving Member of Congress in U.S. history and one of the most influential legislators of all time.  After serving his country in the Army during World War II, John was first elected to Congress in 1955 – representing the people of southeastern Michigan in a seat previously held by his father.  In Washington, John risked his seat to support the Civil Rights Act of 1964, fought to pass Medicare in 1965, and penned legislation like the Clean Air Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act that have kept millions of Americans healthy and preserved our natural beauty for future generations.  

But of all John’s accomplishments, perhaps the most remarkable has been his tireless fight to guarantee quality, affordable health care for every American.  Decades after his father first introduced a bill for comprehensive health reform, John continued to introduce health care legislation at the beginning of every session.  And as an original author of the Affordable Care Act, he helped give millions of families the peace of mind of knowing they won’t lose everything if they get sick.  Today, the people of Michigan – and the American people – are better off because of John Dingell’s service to this country, and Michelle and I wish him, his wife Debbie, and their family the very best.

And Michigan Republican Party Chairman Bobby Schostak issued this statement:

"Congressman Dingell served with great dignity and respect. We wish him the best of health and blessings with his retirement.”

1:00 p.m.

Speaking at a luncheon today at the Southern Wayne County Regional Chamber of Commerce, Rep. John Dingell announced his retirement today.

"I'm not leaving the downriver. I'm not leaving Michigan," Dingell said.

From Dingell's speech:

Around this time every two years, my wife Deborah and I confer on the question of whether I will seek reelection.  My standards are high for this job.  I put myself to the test and have always known that when the time came that I felt I could not live up to my own personal standard for a Member of Congress, it would be time to step aside for someone else to represent this district. 

That time has come.

During a Q&A after his speech Dingell said the single most important vote he cast during his time in Congress was his vote in favor of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

"It was a hard fight, but it solved a problem that was eating at the heart and soul and liver of this country ... [if it hadn't passed] it would have left us with undivided anger and bitterness. We have not solved that problem and there is much to be done."

There's a lot of speculation that Dingell's wife Deborah will run for his seat. Dingell said she has not decided yet whether she will run.

"If she runs, I will vote for her,"  he said.

After his Q&A, the room sang "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow."

11:55 a.m.

You can watch Dingell announce his retirement live below (courtesy of the Detroit Free Press):

*The luncheon has ended.

Watch live streaming video from freeplive at livestream.com

9:38 a.m.

Dingell, the longest-serving member of Congress, made his announcement to the Detroit papers this morning. From the Detroit Free Press:

U.S. Rep. John Dingell, a Dearborn Democrat who replaced his father in the House some 58 years ago and became one of the most powerful members of Congress ever, will step down after this year, capping a career umatched in its longevity and singular in its influence and sweep.

Dingell, 87, told the Free Press that he’d reached the decision to retire at the end of his current term — his 29th full one — rather than run for re-electon because it was time, given a list of achievements that any other member of Congress would envy, and his continued frustration over partisan gridlock.

Dingell said "I'm not going to be carried out feet first." From Detroit News' Nolan Finely:

“I don’t want people to say I stayed too long.”

Dingell says his health “is good enough that I could have done it again. My doctor says I’m OK. And I’m still as smart and capable as anyone on the Hill.

“But I’m not certain I would have been able to serve out the two-year term.”

More than health concerns, Dingell says a disillusionment with the institution drove his decision to retire.

“I find serving in the House to be obnoxious,” he says. “It’s become very hard because of the acrimony and bitterness, both in Congress and in the streets.”

So the question turns to who will run for his seat. And being the longest serving member in Congress, you can expect to see many posts around the web highlighting his career.  Here's one we did last year.

*This post is being updated.

Politics & Government
7:18 am
Mon February 24, 2014

In this morning's headlines: Gay marriage, meth bills, Detroit pensions

Morning News Roundup, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011
User: Brother O'Mara Flickr

Same sex marriage trial

Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage goes on trial this week in Detroit. The case involves a lesbian couple who want to get married so they can jointly adopt the special needs children they’re raising together.

Bills to crack down on meth move forward

"Legislation to stop the sale of ephedrine or pseudoephedrine to people convicted of methamphetamine-related crimes is moving ahead in Lansing. The state Senate last week overwhelmingly approved bills to alert Michigan stores not to sell cold medicine containing the popular ingredients for meth production to criminals convicted of meth offenses," the Associated Press reports.

Bankruptcy plan gives safety net for pensioners

"[Detroit's] bankruptcy plan calls for cutting pensions for general city retirees by up to 30 percent. But this fund would give some of that money back to pensioners who fall close to the federal poverty line," Sarah Hulett reports.

Pages