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Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A top city official admits there has been a “learning curve” after the city of Flint took over bottled water distribution from the state two months ago.

Flint distributes more than 65,000 cases of bottled water a week, comparable to what the state was doing before it handed the job over to the city in September. The city is working with local churches, the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan and United Way of Genesee County to manage the water distribution program.  

Flint City Clerk Inez Brown administers the oath of office to the new Flint city council members.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

“I do solemnly swear,” intoned City Clerk Inez Brown, as she led the nine members of the Flint city council through their oath of office.

The new city council were sworn in today at noon. Five of the nine council members are new to the job.  Last week, Flint voters ousted a majority of incumbents from the panel.   

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver suggests voters wanted the new blood on the council to move beyond old arguments.

Was last year’s Trump-wave a one-time deal? This past Tuesday’s election results are a hint at what might be in store for Election 2018.

Democrats pretty much ran the table last week in Virginia and New Jersey so Republicans have to face some tough political truths. That President Donald Trump has a very low approval rating. That voters upset with him were motivated to get out and vote. And, that it’s tough in mid-terms to be the party that controls the White House and Congress.

City of Flint emblem
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

At noon today, the new Flint city council is sworn in. It could signal a change in the city’s long debate over where its tap water should come from.

Last week, Flint voters elected five new people to the city council. They replace five council members who have fought, in court and out, against signing a 30-year contract with the Great Lakes Water Authority.   Flint has been getting its tap water from the authority on a temporary contract since it turned off the tap to the Flint River.

Beitler Real Estate Services

Monday night, the Lansing city council will begin reviewing a plan to sell city hall to a developer.

Mayor Virg Bernero picked a Chicago real estate developer to turn the site of Lansing city hall into a hotel.    Beitler Real Estate Services was one of four bidders.

Bernero says the company’s $42 million City Hall development plan was the overwhelming favorite of the city’s internal and external review teams. The plan includes the construction of a new City Hall.

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley
Michigan House Republicans

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley handed over the leadership of his part-time Legislature ballot drive to conservative grassroots activists Friday, as he prepared for an expected 2018 campaign for governor.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Congress is working on tax reform. Earlier this week, we heard about the effort from Republican member of Congress Fred Upton. Today, Stateside talked with Democratic Congressman Dan Kildee.

The former Hudson's site, prime real estate along Woodward in the heart of downtown Detroit, has been a city-owned underground parking garage since the Hudson's building was demolished in 1998.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit has a city ordinance that requires most big project developers to negotiate benefits packages with neighborhood groups.

But some members of those groups say the process has been a sham so far. They’re calling on the Detroit City Council to give the ordinance more teeth.

Detroit voters approved one of two competing community benefits agreement last year.

A table filled with bottles of Flint water (both clear and brown)
Flint Water Study / Facebook

Governor Rick Snyder has signed a spending bill that includes more money to prosecute members of his administration for their roles in the Flint water crisis.

The $600,000 will go to state Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office. State Health and Human Services Department Director Nick Lyon and Chief Medical Executive Eden Wells are among those charged.

“It is paying for prosecutions," said Andrea Bitely with the attorney general’s office. "It is paying for expert witness fees. It is paying for travel expenses. It is paying for any number of things.”       

REPUBLICAN CONFERENCE / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

House Republicans are positioning their sweeping tax bill for a planned floor vote next week. 

Garlin Gilchrist II may seek a recount in the Detroit city clerk's race.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Garlin Gilchrist II, who narrowly lost the Detroit city clerk’s race to incumbent Janice Winfrey Tuesday night, says he may petition for a recount.

Gilchrist was leading the vote tally for most of election night. But Winfrey surged ahead at the very end, squeaking out a win with just over 50% of the vote.

That could be due to Winfrey dominating the absentee ballot returns, which tend to be counted last.

mr.smashy / Flickr

The state Senate has adopted bills that would allow concealed pistols in schools, churches, and other places where they are currently banned. The bills also forbid the open carrying of firearms in those places.

State Sen. Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-Olive Twp., says he thinks people are actually less safe in an area where concealed guns are not allowed.

“It’s a target-rich environment for people that don’t abide by the law, and people should have the ability to protect themselves, wherever they are,” he said.

Updated: 11/9/17

The Macomb County Board of Commissioners has once again said "no" to the county clerk's request for money for a private attorney.  Karen Spranger asked for $15,000 for a private attorney earlier this year, and she asked for $100,000 on Tuesday.

Spranger is involved in so many lawsuits it's hard to keep track. 

She's being sued by two former employees that she fired after they allegedly blew the whistle on her ethics violations. She's being sued by one of the unions that represents her employees. And she's being sued by the county.   

Today on Stateside, Gordie Howe's son recalls growing up with Mr. Hockey. Also today, we contextualize some election results and learn how a Harbor Springs boarding school worked to erase Odawa culture until the 1980s. 

graffiti saying "vote"
Flickr user H2Woah! / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

Michigan Radio's Morning Edition host Doug Tribou, and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss some of yesterday's election results.

Mike Duggan celebrates winning a second term as Detroit mayor.
Duggan for Detroit / via Twitter

It wasn’t even close.

As expected, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan coasted to an easy re-election victory Tuesday night, defeating State Sen. Coleman Young II with over 70% of the vote.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver scored a double win on Tuesday.

Kevin Lau / FLICKR - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Something Michiganders talk about all the time? Roads. But do you know who’s in charge of our roads, or who owns them? Listener Phil Arbour was thinking along those lines.

He sent this question to our MI Curious team:

“How is road ownership broken down in Michigan?"

Arbour said he wanted to know how the roads are divvied up by federal, state, county, township, and village.

Stateside brought in Aarne Frobom with the Michigan Department of Transportation to explain.

Today on Stateside, we learn who is responsible for what roads in Michigan. We also hear how auto insurance costs can vary wildly depending on which side of the street you live. And, we talk to the filmmaker of a new documentary that chronicles the highs and lows of Detroit rapper Danny Brown.

person writing on paper
LucasTheExperience / Flickr

A package of bills in the Michigan House would punish petition circulators who mislead or lie to petition signers about their causes.

HB 5208-5214 would make it a misdemeanor for circulators, or the organizations work for, to make false statements in order to get signatures.

Wikimedia Commons

More problems plague the food in Michigan’s prisons. This time it’s maggots.

An investigation by The Detroit Free Press found three separate incidents over the summer of maggots in the food at a Jackson-area prison.

This isn’t the first time there have been complaints against Trinity Services Group. Last May the liberal advocacy group Progress Michigan obtained reports that a different facility had maggot-infested potatoes.

Food service has been outsourced for about five years now.

Come next January, Lansing's going to have itself a new mayor for the first time in a dozen years. Today on Stateside, outgoing mayor Virg Bernero reflects on his legacy. Also today, from mailers and commercials to donations, we hear why tracking all of the money in local elections is not easy. And, can soul food be vegan? We learn why Detroit restaurateurs say yes as they serve up meatless favorites.

Lindsey Scullen/Michigan Radio

Come next January, Lansing's going to have itself a new mayor for the first time in a dozen years.

That's because Mayor Virg Bernero chose not to run for re-election.

During his tenure, Bernero never shied away from a fight — if he felt it was warranted — and his plain-spoken style earned him the handle of America's Angriest Mayor.

Courtesy of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network

Tomorrow is Election Day. It’s an off-year election focused on local issues and races.

But there’s still plenty of money being poured into these local races – dark money, out-of-state money, and SuperPAC money.

Craig Mauger from the Michigan Campaign Finance Network joined Stateside today to explain how money influences our local politics, and how hard it can be to track that money.

WDIV

Campaign finance filings reveal the lopsided nature of Detroit’s mayoral race between Mike Duggan and Coleman Young II.

First-term incumbent Duggan raised more than $752,000 since the end of August. His campaign has raised over $4.2 million since he won the mayor’s office in 2013.

By contrast, Young’s campaign raised just under $20,000 in the past couple of months, and a total of $53,680 for the whole election cycle.

Duggan’s campaign finance filings also show he’s built a national donor base in the past four years.

It is petition signing time in Michigan.

When you go vote tomorrow it is very likely that you will be greeted by a petition circulator.

These circulators look for registered voters because they need to submit enough signatures to the state in order to quality for next year’s ballot. Maybe you’ve already met folks trying to get you to sign onto a petition regarding marijuana legalization, redistricting, or whether Lansing should move to a part-time Legislature.

water going into cup from faucet
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

One candidate for governor says Michigan’s failure to provide clean, affordable water to all epitomizes its “political dysfunction.”

Abdul El-Sayed said this applies to the Flint water crisis, and to ongoing mass water shutoffs in Detroit--and there’s “pretty good evidence” the latter is also causing a “public health crisis” in Detroit.

El-Sayed is a Democrat, and a medical doctor. He was also the city of Detroit’s health department director.

Traffic lights
Thomas Hawk / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

District judges want Gov. Snyder to drop his opposition to bills that would get rid of so-called driver responsibility fees. They say the fees are ruining people's lives because they lose their driver's license if they can't afford to pay them. This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about why Gov. Snyder is concerned about the bills.


sign that says "vote here"
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

When voters in South Lyon head to the polls on Tuesday, they're going to see a pretty big empty spot at the top of their ballot.

That's because nobody wanted to run for mayor. Not in time to meet the city's deadline and get on the ballot anyway.

But that doesn't mean voters won't have any choices. 

Seven write-in candidates have stepped up -- they just won't have their names on the ballot.

Today on Stateside, we discuss Amazon's next potential disruption: auto dealerships. We also hear how Detroit's lopsided mayor's race still reveals divisions. And, we discuss the bill that'd scrap state ballast water rules – the ones that help keep out invasive species.

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