Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

Sgt. Anthony Gazvoda in Afghanistan
Sgt. Anthony Gazvoda

Anyone who goes to fight for the U.S. military in Afghanistan is putting themselves in harm’s way. However, few had a more dangerous job than Grayling, Mich. native Army Sgt. Anthony Gazvoda.

Gazvoda’s job was to clear the roads for his fellow soldiers. This meant he was on the lookout for Improvised Explosive Devices and potential ambushes. By the time Gazvoda left the service with an honorable discharge and a commendation for valor, he had been involved in 34 firefights and dealt with 32 IED incidents.

  • In 1964, when legislators in Michigan created a state minimum wage, the idea was to create a system where no worker would be paid less than minimum wage. That was true for farm workers, too. Until now
  • A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found where you live can make a difference in how long you live.
U.S. Department of Agriculture / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

In 1964, when legislators in Michigan created a state minimum wage, the idea was to create a system where no worker would be paid less than minimum wage.

But in a departure from previous practice, the state agency that enforces the law ruled in a pay dispute case that agricultural workers are not protected under the minimum wage law.

Sub Committee chair Mike Zimmer (lower left) delivers a report on new lead/copper testing as members of the governor's special Flint water team listen, including Gov. Rick Snyder and Flint Mayor Karen Weaver
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan would have the toughest lead testing standard in the nation under a sweeping proposal unveiled today in Flint, where the drinking water is still contaminated with lead and residents remain dependent on bottled water donations.

To make sure other Michigan cities don’t suffer the same fate, Gov. Rick Snyder and a team of experts have unveiled a plan to tighten water testing regulations and lower the threshold for action.   

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint residents will not be a water bill next week. But instead, they’ll get a statement showing a state credit.

The state gave Flint $30 million to help city residents who’ve been unable to drink the water since April 2014. 

Flint CFO Jody Lundquist expects some confusion when people open what they expect is a bill, but instead will show the state credit. 

“Please do bear with our customers service staff as they work to address any questions we anticipate you may have,” says Lundquist.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The U.S. Senate’s rejection of a quarter billion dollars in aid to Flint has the city’s mayor looking to Lansing for help.

Flint backers in Washington were unable to convince a Republican senator from Utah to end his opposition to the Flint appropriation. 

It was stripped from a funding bill this week.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver says she’ll “press on” and ask state lawmakers for more help.

  • Gov. Rick Snyder’s appearance at this week’s Pancakes & Politics breakfast was marked by his insistence that his staff and “career civil servants” misled him about the Flint water crisis.
user GPDII / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM


It began with a concern raised by some Michigan companies: Some foreign visitors can’t drive with their foreign driver’s licenses, particularly those from China.

Could something be done in Lansing to clear the way for a Chinese executive visiting, say, Dow Chemical, to drive on his or her own?

The result was Senate Bill 501.

Kevin Rosseel / morguefile

Two prisons would close under a plan adopted today by a state Senate budget subcommittee.

The budget proposal does not specify which prisons would be closed. That would be up to the Department of Corrections.

The proposal also calls for the state to lease a privately owned prison in the northern Michigan town of Baldwin that’s currently used to house out-of-state inmates. The move is a response to a decline in the number of prison inmates.

  • A $200,000 question in Lansing City Hall as the city attorney abruptly resigns yet gets a full year's salary and more. Judi Browne Clarke is president of the Lansing City Council.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There’s something brewing around Lansing’s City Hall.

On March 4, Lansing’s city attorney Janene McIntyre resigned voluntarily, but the Lansing State Journal reports that McIntyre was still paid $160,000 in salary and accrued benefits. McIntyre and Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero have repeatedly declined to discuss the details about why she left and why she was given such a substantial payment by the city.

  • New water tests from Virginia Tech show lead levels are improving in Flint, but the water is still not safe to drink without a filter.
Stephen Harlan / flickr creative commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Detroit mayor Mike Duggan announced plans today to recruit more Detroit-based, minority contractors for the city's expanding blight-removal efforts.

Duggan wants them to help meet increased demand for home demolition and rehabilitation in the city's neighborhoods.

Duggan announced several upcoming fairs to connect contractors with opportunities. The first will be held on May 13 at the Northwest Activities Center at 18100 Meyers Road.

Marc Edwards alerts the people of Flint that they should take precautions when dealing with drinking water in Flint.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Marc Edwards and his team from Virginia Tech tested 269 Flint homes last summer to help uncover the major lead problem in the city's drinking water.

The team came back to Flint last month to try to retest those same homes.

They found that the city is still not meeting the federal action level for lead, 15 ppm, today. They recommend that residents continue to use water filters and bottled water for drinking and cooking.

Watch Edwards and the Virginia Tech team talk about the results of those tests below:

The barge in the middle of the Straits of Mackinac.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

An upcoming state senate bill would curb new oil pipelines in the Great Lakes.

Senator Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, says he'll introduce legislation this week that would block new pipelines from running through Great Lakes waters.

The bill would also require existing lines to undergo a third-party safety review – including Enbridge's Line 5 beneath the Straits of Mackinac.

Jones says his bill would shut down the 63-year-old line, and others, if the safety review deemed it unsafe.

  • Leading off the show is John U. Bacon as he tackles a number of issues in the Michigan sports world.
steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan Republicans picked their 59 delegates to the national convention over the weekend. Now, the lobbying begins for their votes.

At their state party convention in Lansing, 25 delegates were chosen to represent businessman Donald Trump.  Trump received the most votes in Michigan’s Republican primary.   Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Ohio Governor John Kasich each received 17 delegates. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The issue of tax credits for affordable housing is expected to come up again at Monday night’s Lansing city council meeting.

The city council recently rejected a request for special tax credits for a low-income development in Lansing’s Old Town section.

Julie Powers is with the Greater Lansing Housing Authority. She claims several city council members worried about who the 24-unit development would attract.

“What we were told at the committee of the whole meeting was that “those people” aren’t wanted in Old Town,” says Powers.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A Michigan U.S. Senator says a federal aid package for Flint might move through Congress quicker if state officials tap the rainy day fund and budget surplus now. 

Sen. Debbie Stabenow and others have been pushing for hundreds of millions of federal dollars for Flint’s water crisis.

But action in Congress is stalled. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, has put a hold on the legislation. He’s expressed concern that the state of Michigan hasn’t committed to spend more of its own money to address the crisis.  

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

In a divided year, unity was a recurring theme at this year’s Michigan Republican Party Convention.

“Are you ready to win in 2016!” shouted Michigan state GOP chair Ronna Romney-McDaniel at the convention in Lansing.

The chief duty of the state convention is to pick delegates to the national convention this summer.   The three-way race has created divisions within the party.    

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan Republicans are meeting in Lansing this weekend to select delegates to the party’s presidential-nominating convention this summer in Cleveland.

The delegates are divided between billionaire Donald Trump, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, and Ohio Governor John Kasich.

There was concern about schemes to recruit shadow delegates who would not represent their declared candidates’ interests beyond voting for them on a first ballot in a deadlocked convention.

“We’re taking the Ronald Reagan strategy – trust but verify,” says Scott Hagerstrom, Trump’s Michigan director.

faucet
Steve Johnson / Creative Commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Flint residents waiting for relief on their water bills are going to have to wait a little longer.

On Friday, city administrator Sylvester Jones said the city wasn't ready to send residents new water bills with state-promised credits.

The new bills were expected to go out this week, but Jones said the city needs more time to make sure they're correct, transparent and easy to understand.

It's unclear when the credited bills will go out, but Jones said the city hopes it will be soon.

  • Michigan’s Schools of Choice program is 20 years old. The Holland Sentinel recently looked at the impacts on local school districts. We speak with Holland Public Schools Superintendent Brian Davis.
  • Nearly one in four Americans are asked to sign a non-compete agreement when taking a new job.
  • Barbara Niess-May, executive director of SafeHouse Center, discusses why so many women don’t talk about their sexual assaults, and the national campaign “Start by Believing” to try to change that.
screenshot

The Next Idea

Iceland is one of those countries that you don’t tend to see in the international spotlight.

That changed this week, when the so-called “Panama Papers” were leaked, revealing that a law firm in Panama allegedly set up secret shell companies and offshore accounts to help world power players avoid taxes.

Iceland’s prime minister was the first major casualty of the Panama Papers. He stepped aside after the leaks showed he owned an offshore company with his wife.

But this isn’t the only political upheaval in recent Icelandic history. Following a financial crisis that all but crippled the country, Icelanders decided it was time to rewrite their constitution. And to do so, they turned to crowdsourcing.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Gov. Rick Snyder is once again being criticized by a top congressional Democrat.

In a letter sent to the governor this week, Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings says he has grave concerns about the governor’s recent congressional testimony on  the crisis. Cummings grilled the governor last month during a hearing into Flint’s lead-tainted tap water.

“You claimed you were working with local leaders rather marginalizing them and you claimed you were being transparent,” Cummings said in his letter to Snyder.

  • The shooting spree in Kalamazoo was yet another reminder of a thorny problem for news outlets: how do you report the facts without doing it in a way that inspires a copycat?
  • In a typical presidential election year, the state GOP convention would be a pretty cut-and-dried affair. But this is no typical election year.
Jenny / flickr creative commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

U.S. Representative Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, has asked U.S. Marine Corps Commandant General Robert B. Neller for "further clarification" about last month's death of U.S. Marine Corps Private Raheel Siddiqui of Taylor, Michigan. 

In a letter sent earlier this week, Dingell describes Siddiqui as "a young man of Muslim faith who loved his country and wanted to serve it and protect the freedoms for which it stands."

Dingell wants to know whether hazing was involved in the March 18 death of Siddiqui, who arrived at Parris island on March 7 for boot camp. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Flint is taking steps to deal with a key staffing issue in its drinking water crisis.

Federal regulators have criticized Flint officials for not hiring more people to operate the city’s water plant.  The EPA says the city needs more professionals to ensure it stays in compliance with federal regulations. 

The city’s new water plant supervisor started work this week. 

Jolisa McDay has 15 years experience.  She sees Flint’s system as a “challenge”.

“I’m diligently working to be sure that we have all that we need,” says McDay.

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry talked about Flint's struggling water and sewer fund, while Wayne County has its first budget surplus in eight years. He also talked about the life of former Detroit Mayor Roman Gribbs, who passed away yesterday.


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