Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

Detroit City Council member Saunteel Jenkins is resigning.

Jenkins was first elected to Council in 2009. She was re-elected in 2013 as one of two at-large members on a now mostly district-based Council.

Jenkins finished her first term serving as Council President, after Charles Pugh abandoned the post. She sought the post again this term, but lost a close internal vote to current President Brenda Jones.

 Welcome to this fundraising edition of It’s Just Politics.

No, we’re not talking about Michigan Radio’s Fall Fundrive that’s underway (although the number is 888-258-98… ah, stop us!).

Instead, we are talking about Election 2014 campaign fundraising.

Endless pleas

If you’re on a campaign or party list you are well aware of the seemingly endless pleas for campaign cash.

“The entire team is still here. There is nothing we’d rather be doing than going home and taking a break. But we know how important this midnight deadline we’re facing is. If we don’t meet it, that means we could lose.”

Or this one from Senate Republicans, “Friend, I’m really disappointed and worried. I’ve been counting on your support to end Harry Reid’s disastrous control of the US Senate on November 4th….”

user Samahiaka18 / wikimedia commons

State officials say too many infants experience psychological trauma when they are removed from their homes and put into foster care. The Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS) hopes to change that with a new set of policies.

Child Protective Services (CPS) employees will be encouraged to work with mental health experts in some cases. DHS says it will also try to place babies in homes that are likely to adopt them, when possible. That’s when they are not likely to be reunited with their parents.

papierdreams / Flickr

Election Day is just under a month away.

But Michigan Radio political commentator Jack Lessenberry has already voted – at his kitchen table, with an absentee ballot.

Michigan Municipal League / Flickr

We are hearing it a lot this election cycle: Gov. Rick Snyder says he's created 300,000 private-sector jobs. His Democratic opponent, Mark Schauer, promises he will create more and better-paying jobs if he's elected.

But cutting through the campaign promises, what role does a governor really have in creating and keeping jobs for Michigan?

Michigan Radio's Lester Graham asks that question in his latest report for Michigan Watch, and Donald Grimes is with the University of Michigan’s Institute for Research on Labor, Employment and the Economy.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Two congressional candidates agreed on the need for more bipartisanship in Washington during a debate today in Flint.

They just disagreed as to who’s at fault for the lack of bipartisanship now.

Republican Allen Hardwick is challenging incumbent Fifth District Congressman Dan Kildee. They faced off during a midday debate before the West Flint Business Association.

With news out today that President Obama will be campaigning for statewide Democratic candidates Gary Peters and Mark Schauer at the end of the month, I thought it would be a good time to revisit a prediction my It’s Just Politics co-host Rick Pluta and I made in September.

That prediction? That, although many political pundits continue to talk about the president’s unpopularity nationwide, Barack Obama would make an appearance in Michigan before Election Day.

President Obama will return to Michigan. Back to campaign and to inspire Obama voters to get out and vote in the mid-terms. (It’s Just Politics, September 27th, 2014)

It is absolutely true that the president’s approval ratings are nothing to write home  about (in fact, they appear to be at their lowest level today since he took office) but, as Pluta and I have talked about before on IJP, this is a get-out-the-vote election. Democrats are relying on their core supporters, their base voters, to get them to victory at the polls on Nov. 4.

Though there are more Democrats in Michigan, Republicans do a better job of turning out in mid-term elections, when a president is not at the top of the ballot.

That’s why, although Michigan is a blue-state, we have a Republican governor, secretary of state and attorney general (all positions that are elected in non-presidential years, when Democrats tend to stay home).  – It’s Just Politics, Oct. 11, 2014

In order for Democrats to get their voters to the polls they need big names to help excite the electorate and there aren’t bigger Democratic names in this election cycle than President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama (who was in Detroit last Friday) and Hillary Clinton (who will visit Michigan tomorrow).

The bottom of the ballot is often ignored. That’s where the non-partisan races are located and includes candidates running for Michigan Supreme Court. Bridge Magazine’s Truth Squad recently reviewed a radio ad being aired on behalf of two of the candidates running for the three open seats.

Incumbent Justices David Viviano and Brian Zahra were both put on the court by Gov. Rick Snyder.

A radio ad sponsored by the Michigan Chamber of Commerce makes this statement:

“Viviano and Zahra use common sense on Michigan’s Supreme Court. They’re rule-of-law judges.”

That statement colors the rest of the ad.

Today on Stateside:

  • We learned from reporters who profiled four states that exceed Michigan in student achievement and performance.
  • Auto sales in China are slowing down. Who's winning and who's losing?
  • Even as much of the world goes gaga for the latest smartphone, there are people who happily stay with their old flip phone. What happens in our brains when we're always checking email and social media?
  • We found out why Michigan gas prices are falling.  
  • The world's very first floating ZIP code is right here in Michigan.
  • And Detroit Free Press travel writer Ellen Creager told us about the booming business of ziplines and adventure parks in Michigan.

* Listen to the full show above.

U.S. Senate candidate Gary Peters (D) and Michigan Attorney General candidate Mark Totten (D) will answer questions from the MLive editorial board during tonight's "Ballot Bash" event in Royal Oak.

Gary Peters is scheduled to appear from 6:30 - 7:00 p.m. Mark Totten is scheduled from 7:15 - 7:45 p.m.

You can watch the event below:

Detroit residents met Monday night for a discussion on how to move forward after the elimination of Citizens District Councils (CDCs).

CDCs have been around since the Blighted Area Rehabilitation Act of 1945 granted Michigan cities the right to acquire blighted properties using the power of eminent domain.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s emergency manager says time is running out for city council members to complete required governance training.

Darnell Earley's appointment as Flint’s EM ends next spring. But it’s unclear if state oversight will continue, or a transition back to local control will begin.

Completing the training is part of Earley’s plan to begin the transition.

Flint Mayor Dayne Walling and two councilmen have completed or nearly completed training for how to manage city budgets and other local government skills.

Jake Neher / MPRN

Democratic nominee for governor Mark Schauer rallied retirees a day after his first, and probably only, public joint appearance with Gov. Rick Snyder. He blasted Snyder’s decision to end income tax exemptions for pension income.

Schauer spoke in front of a friendly crowd at a UAW center in Warren.

“No bloc of voters votes more reliably than seniors and retirees,” said Schauer. “And I would argue that there is no group who has been more negatively impacted by the policies here in Michigan than retirees and seniors.”

Gov. Snyder says the so-called “pension tax” was part of an effort to make the state’s tax system more fair. He says he also created a new exemption for all retirees regardless of what kind of retirement plan they have, although that exemption is less generous.

Jake Neher / MPRN

Former Florida governor and possible 2016 presidential candidate Jeb Bush campaigned for GOP candidates across Michigan on Monday.

Bush spoke in front of hundreds of Republicans in Troy to cap off his visit to Michigan. He urged GOP faithful to show up to the polls in November for U.S. Senate nominee Terri Lynn Land and Governor Rick Snyder.

“This last three weeks, I hope you do everything you can to elect, reelect Rick Snyder as your new governor. Rick, we love you. We want you to win,” Bush said as he was Snyder, who later called Bush an “outstanding mentor” to him, specifically on education policy.

More big national political names are expected to visit Michigan in the coming weeks. Their goal will be to fire up the party base and get out the vote in November.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is scheduled to campaign for Democrats Mark Schauer and Gary Peters later this week.

Jose Juarez / AP; timesunion

Republican Governor Rick Snyder and Democratic challenger Mark Schauer met yesterday evening in their only debate. The two were asked about the economy, taxes and education funding.

Rick Pluta and Zoe Clark are co-hosts of Michigan Radio’s It’s Just Politics.

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder (left), and Democratic challenger Mark Schauer (right).
Gov. Snyder's office, and Schauer campaign.

Watch the only debate in the 2014 Michigan governor's race below.

The one-hour, town-hall-style debate took place between Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and his Democratic challenger Mark Schauer last night at 6 p.m.

The forum included an audience of undecided voters asking questions to both candidates and was televised from Wayne State University.

You can watch it below. (If you're having trouble seeing the video below, try this link.)

Or you can listen to the audio here:

rightwingweb

This week may feel like a 90’s political flashback as a Bush and a Clinton campaign in Michigan.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush will be Michigan Monday campaigning for Republican candidates.

The son and brother of former presidents plans on making stops in Grand Rapids, Lansing and Troy.

A few days later, former First Lady, former United States Senator and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will visit Michigan to campaign as well.

Clinton will drum up votes for Democratic candidates for governor and U.S. Senate.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

  LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Democrats who need a five-seat swing to upend Republican control of the Michigan House face a number obstacles in the November 4th election.

  They include gerrymandered districts, a financial disadvantage and historical trends favoring the GOP in a non-presidential election year.

  But Representative Brandon Dillon, who's leading House Democrats' campaign to retake power for the first time since 2010, says there are enough chances to pick up seats.

  Republicans, however, like their chances to fatten a current 59-50 edge in the House.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Republican Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and Democratic challenger Godfrey Dillard seem to agree that Michigan motorists dread dealing with the state's motor vehicle registration and driver's license system.

In her campaign for another four years, Johnson talks about how hard she worked to improve service at Department of State branch offices even as her budget shrank. And she talks about expanding her pilot programs to cut the wait time.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A watchdog group says $1.2 million has been spent on TV ads in Michigan’s Supreme Court judge races this year and more money is flowing in.

Michigan has three seats on the court on next month’s ballot.

Candidates have spent just under a million dollars themselves.   The Michigan Republican Party recently spent $200,000 to boost three GOP candidates.

Laurie Kinney is with Justice at Stake.    She says spending is rising as Election Day draws closer.

 We’ve been talking for months now on It’s Just Politics about the fact that Election 2014 is really going to be about which party does a better job of getting out its core voters, especially whether Democrats can get their voters to the polls on November 4th.

Though there are more Democrats in Michigan, Republicans do a better job of turning out in mid-term elections, when a President is not at the top of the ballot.

That’s why, although Michigan is a blue-state, we have a Republican Governor, Secretary of State and Attorney General (all positions that are elected in non-presidential years, when Democrats tend to stay home).

That explains why we’re seeing a competitive race for governor, although some recent polls show Republican Governor Rick Snyder opening a wider lead (some polls, not all).

Meantime, almost every poll shows Democrat Gary Peters opening a wider lead over Republican nominee Terri Lynn Land for the state’s open U.S. Senate seat.

First Lady Michelle Obama headlined a campaign event for Michigan Democrats in Detroit Friday.

The First Lady got a warm, energetic reception from the crowd at the Detroit Music Hall.

She encouraged them to sustain that energy right through election day.

Mrs. Obama praised the Democrats running at the top of the ticket: Mark Schauer for Governor, and Gary Peters for US Senate.  

She told the crowd that Democrats fare better when voter turnout is high—and it’s especially important in Detroit.

The Detroit City Council is considering an ordinance to ensure “community benefits” come with future large development projects—but it’s drawing some fierce pushback.

The so-called “urban development agreement” has been in the works for more than a year.

It would make sure large-scale developments offer some guaranteed benefits (like jobs for local residents and city-based contractors) and protections (like safeguards for displaced residents and the environment) to host communities.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Sunday evening, Republican Governor Rick Snyder and his Democratic challenger Mark Schauer will square off in their only scheduled debate before November’s election.

The town hall-style debate will be televised from Wayne State University, and you can hear it live on Michigan Radio at 6:00 pm.

Today on Stateside:

  • Daniel Howes from The Detroit News tells us how 70 years of history crashes up against the realities of building Jeep Wranglers in 2014.
  • We get the answer to an MI Curious question posed by a listener: "What is the status of the Enbridge pipelines at the bottom of Lake Michigan running through the Straits of Mackinac?"
  • What about MSU's Head Coach and AD calling out Spartan fans for leaving early during last Saturday's late-night game against Nebraska? Michigan Radio's sports commentator John U. Bacon shares his views.
  • It's been two years since indie-folk artist Chris Bathgate has taken to a stage. Michigan Radio's Emily Fox discovers why he's back and what's new with his music.
  • With so many in Michigan with business and personal ties to China, we look at what the Hong Kong student protests might mean for mainland China.
  • Continuing our series this week, we explore another story from the Upper Peninsula: a kayak adventure.

* Listen to the full show above.

Podiums
Angus Mcdlarmld / Flickr

For a moment it seemed like the public would get a chance to see a debate between Republican Terri Lynn Land and Democrat Gary Peters. They're the candidates running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Democratic Senator Carl Levin who is retiring.

Last night, however, negotiations fell apart.

I spoke with Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, about the politics behind these debates. Here's our conversation:

Wikimedia Commons

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is joining an ever-growing list of national leaders visiting Michigan to bring out the vote for their parties' candidates.

Clinton will campaign at a public event next Thursday for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Gary Peters and gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer. The Michigan Democratic Party said details will be announced soon.

Clinton's visit will follow First Lady  Michelle Obama's Detroit appearance tomorrow to campaign for Peters and Schauer.

Wayne County

Wayne County commissioners voted Thursday to reject one option for the next jail:  moving the courts and the jail to the former Mound Correctional Facility.

Commissioner Richard LeBlanc says the $750 million price tag was far too high.

But LeBlanc doesn't like any of the remaining options either.

That includes the one favored by many of his fellow commissioners:  restarting the halted jail construction project at Gratiot in downtown.

Gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer (D) and Secretary of State candidate Godfrey Dillard (D) will answer questions from the MLive editorial board during tonight's live Ballot Bash event in Lansing.

Godfrey Dillard is scheduled to appear from 6:45 - 7:15 pm. Mark Schauer is scheduled from 7:30 - 8:00 pm.

You can watch the event below:

Gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer (D) and Secretary of State candidate Godfrey Dillard (D) will answer questions from the MLive editorial board during tonight's live Ballot Bash event in Lansing. Godfrey Dillard is scheduled to appear from 6:45 - 7:15 pm. Mark Schauer is scheduled from 7:30 - 8:00 pm. You can watch the event below:

Live streaming video by Ustream The final Ballot Bash event will be Tuesday, Oct. 14 in Royal Oak featuring U.S. Senate candidate Gary Peters (D) and Attorney General candidate Mark Totten (D).

The final Ballot Bash event will be Tuesday, Oct. 14 in Royal Oak featuring U.S. Senate candidate Gary Peters (D) and Attorney General candidate Mark Totten (D). 

Ben+Sam / Flickr

How would things change if, instead of the political system we have now, we moved to a "top-two" primary? In other words, one primary in which the top two candidates, regardless of party, move on to the general election.

Paul deLespinasse is a professor emeritus of political science at Adrian College, and believes a big reason for gridlock in Congress and state legislatures in this country is our primary system. 

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