Politics & Government

Stateside
4:35 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

Kevyn Orr reaches tentative deal with Detroit's largest employee union

Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr is in Lansing today and tomorrow, getting face-time with the lawmakers whose vote is crucial to the so-called grand bargain, the complicated deal to protect city retirees and the collection at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Orr heads to Lansing with a new piece of the puzzle in hand: a tentative five-year deal reached Monday with AFSCME, Detroit's largest employee union.

Detroit News reporter Chad Livengood joined us today to give us an idea of what progress has been made and what lies ahead for the city.

Listen to the full interview above.

Politics & Government
1:27 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

Governor declares another financial emergency in Highland Park

Credit City of Highland Park

Gov. Rick Snyder has confirmed his decision that Highland Park faces a financial emergency.

The small city located within Detroit’s borders is no stranger to financial troubles.

The Michigan Department of Treasury first reviewed Highland Park’s finances in 1996. From 2001 through 2009, it had an emergency financial manager.

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Politics & Culture
4:11 pm
Mon April 28, 2014

Stateside for Monday, April 28, 2014

Today on our show, legislators are still trying to decide which standardized test should be used to measure student growth in the classroom, which, in turn, determines the fate of Michigan teachers. Brian Smith, MLive's statewide education and courts reporter, joined us today.

We also check out the New Music Ensemble at Grand Valley State University. They're launching a new project called “Music In Our Parks.”

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Politics & Government
11:31 am
Mon April 28, 2014

With violence back home, Michigan's Iraqis go to the polls

At a polling place in Dearborn, Iraqis celebrate casting their ballots.
Credit Kate Wells

Michigan’s Iraqi community heads to the polls this week in the first major election since U.S. troops left the country.

It’s both an ecstatic and extremely tense time.

One voting site is a big, ornate banquet hall in Dearborn, and it's packed with Christians, Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds – all Iraqis, many with kids and grandparents taking pictures of each other holding up ink-stained fingers, souvenirs from casting their ballots.

Multiple people mentioned “feeling like this is a wedding,” and several made big sacrifices in order to cast their ballots.

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Politics & Government
11:25 am
Mon April 28, 2014

Mediators in Detroit bankruptcy reach tentative deal with city's unions

Detroit Skyline
JSFauxtaugraphy/Flickr

The city of Detroit has reached a tentative deal with more than a dozen unions that represent thousands of workers in the city.

Mediators for the federal court overseeing Detroit’s reorganization under Chapter 9 bankruptcy announced the tentative deal this morning.

They say the coalition of unions includes 13 civilian unions and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union. AFSCME is the city’s largest union.

The mediators say the city and the unions have agreed on the "major aspects" of a five-year collective bargaining agreement. The deal still has to be approved by the federal bankruptcy judge Steven Rhodes and by the union's members.

Details of the deal will be released once it’s approved. Chad Livengood of the Detroit News reports he spoke with a source with knowledge of the agreement:

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Politics & Government
11:24 am
Mon April 28, 2014

Controversial Right to Farm decision expected Monday

Credit Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A state board is likely to make a decision today on a controversial rule that would end certain legal protections for people raising chickens and other livestock in residential areas.

The rule change would take protections under the state’s Right to Farm Act away from people living in residentially zoned areas. The changes would not outlaw backyard chickens and other livestock.

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Politics & Government
2:19 pm
Sat April 26, 2014

Before it moves ahead on parking, Detroit might want to take a close look at Chicago

Credit wikihow

If you’ve had a frustrating experience with a Detroit parking meter, you’re definitely not alone--about half those meters aren’t working at any given time.

The situation has the bankrupt city looking for outside operators to fix, and possibly run, its parking system.

It’s likely such a deal would get done fast. But experts warn Detroit might want to take a close look at Chicago’s recent experience first.

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Politics & Government
2:17 pm
Sat April 26, 2014

Retirees' committee will back Detroit pension cuts

Detroit skyline
Credit Peter Martorano / Flickr

DETROIT (AP) - A committee representing Detroit retirees has agreed to endorse the city's plan to cut pensions in bankruptcy. The committee is supporting deals struck last week that would cut the pensions of general retirees by 4.5 percent and eliminate cost-of-living payments. Police officers and firefighters would see a cut only in their annual inflation allowance. Detroit also wants to recover certain generous annuity payments made since 2003.

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Politics & Government
10:00 am
Sat April 26, 2014

Tax cut plans dim as focus at the state capitol shifts to potholes

Legislative leaders aren't ready to give up on tax cut discussions but acknowledge that road funding could ultimately be a higher priority. New revenue estimates for the next budget in mid-May could prove crucial.
Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - An income tax cut seemed inevitable just two months ago, as Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Republican lawmakers offered up and even began passing rival plans to use some of a budget surplus for tax relief before the 2014 elections.

Now plans for a tax reduction are waning and shifting instead to addressing pothole-ridden roads.

   Snyder says he's open to dropping his tax plan to set aside more money for transportation. He attributes the shrinking interest in tax relief among legislators to drivers who voiced frustration with crummy roads.

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Politics & Government
6:09 pm
Fri April 25, 2014

U of M students are coming up with ways to make local governments more open

The students have been using the city of Jackson as a ‘civic’ laboratory to come up with ways to improve connections between local governments and residents.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Some University of Michigan graduate students spent a few hours today outlining plans for using new technologies to make local governments more open.

The students have been using the city of Jackson as a civic laboratory to come up with ways to improve connections between local governments and residents.

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It's Just Politics
2:46 pm
Fri April 25, 2014

GOP plan to stop drive to increase the minimum wage: increase the minimum wage, of course

It's Just Politics with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta

It’s Michigan minimum wage redux. This week, conservative Republican state Senator Rick Jones introduced a bill to increase Michigan’s minimum wage from $7.40 to $8.15 an hour. The measure would also increase the minimum wage for tipped workers from $2.65 to $2.75 an hour.

Yes, you read that correctly. A Republican lawmaker wants to increase the state’s minimum wage.

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Politics & Government
9:57 am
Fri April 25, 2014

Detroit bankruptcy in cruise control – but there are big speed bumps ahead

Detroit’s historic bankruptcy case has picked up steam in the past couple of weeks.

The city reached tentative agreement with some of its major creditors, clearing the way for a relatively quick exit from bankruptcy court.

But there are still some key missing pieces that could derail the process, and now they’re mostly outside the city’s control.

“Now is the time to negotiate”

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Politics & Government
5:28 am
Fri April 25, 2014

Flint plans to shut off water pipeline from Detroit today

Eventually, Flint will get its tap water from Lake Huron. But while construction of that pipeline is taking place, the Flint River will provide the water for the city’s faucets.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

After a brief delay, the city of Flint will finally start getting its drinking water exclusively from the Flint River starting this afternoon.

City leaders had hoped to start tapping the Flint River earlier this week. But the state Department of Environmental Quality refused to give its final OK until more work was done on a disinfectant system.

The DEQ has now given its approval.

So this afternoon at 2 p.m., Flint city officials will shut the valve on the intake pipe that brings water to the city from Detroit.

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Politics & Government
9:50 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

Snyder: Michigan needs more migrant farm workers

Gov. Snyder says Michigan needs more migrant farm laborers.
Credit Craig Camp / flickr

Gov. Rick Snyder says Michigan needs to do more to attract seasonal migrant laborers to work on farms this spring and summer.

Last year, Michigan asparagus farmers lost about 2 million pounds – or 10% of their crop – because they didn’t have enough workers. Michigan competes with Texas and California for farm labor, and Gov. Snyder says there are already concerns that Michigan won’t be able to lure enough agriculture labor this year.  

“And so we want to get the word out to people, particularly in that category, to say: Please, come to Michigan. You’re welcome here.”

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Politics & Government
9:44 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

State senator offers minimum wage hike alternative

Credit Andy Nguyen / Flickr

A Republican in the state Senate wants to boost Michigan’s minimum wage to $8.15 an hour.

Sen. Rick Jones’ introduced the legislation Thursday, which would be an alternative to a ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage.

That ballot drive would boost the rate from $7.40 an hour to $10.10 an hour. It would also eventually raise the rate for tipped workers from $2.65 to $10.10 an hour.

Jones, R-Grand Ledge, thinks that kind of increase would put many Michigan restaurants out of business.

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Politics & Government
9:51 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Gov. Snyder and Senate leader not embracing Bolger’s union demands

Bolger's GOP colleagues are distancing themselves from the speaker's call for unions to contribute to Detroit's "grand bargain."
Credit Michigan Municipal League / Flickr

Republican leaders in Lansing are not joining House Speaker Jase Bolger’s calls for unions to contribute to Detroit’s bankruptcy settlement.

Gov. Rick Snyder and several foundations have signed off on a complicated deal to protect retiree pensions and artwork at the Detroit Institute of Arts. The state’s contribution to the so-called “grand bargain” would be about $350 million, and state lawmakers would have to approve that money.

Bolger, R-Marshall, says it’s only fair for unions to contribute to the deal as well.

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Stateside
5:35 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Stryker of the Detroit Free Press talks DIA art and bankruptcy

Detroit Institute of Arts
Credit Photo courtesy of the DIA

As Detroit's bankruptcy battle continues to unfold, a question remains: what will happen to the city-owned pieces at the Detroit Institute of Arts?

The city recently reached a tentative agreement with its retirees and pensioners. Could the agreements impact the possible sale of DIA work to satisfy Detroit's bondholders and other creditors?

Mark Stryker explored that question in The Detroit Free Press and we spoke with him today.

*Listen to the audio above.

Politics & Culture
5:35 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Stateside for Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Now that it appears Detroit pensioners will not have to take a big hit to their monthly checks because of the bankruptcy, should the city's other creditors expect a better deal than Kevyn Orr first offered?

Today we explored how those questions might affect the fate of the treasures at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Then we spoke with Michigan Radio’s Lester Graham about his documentary that explores the challenges faced by Michigan children who are growing up in poverty and pollution.

First on today’s show, we received an update on the state’s controversial Education Achievement Authority. That’s the state-run authority meant to turn around some of Michigan’s lowest-performing schools. Michigan Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville hopes there will be a final vote this week on a bill to expand the EAA. Right now, the EAA runs 15 schools in Detroit. The bill would pave the way for it to expand up to 50 schools statewide.

Michigan Public Radio Network’s Lansing reporter Jake Neher joined us to talk about the latest happenings in Lansing.

Stateside
5:32 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Detroit watches as Delaware Art Museum sells pieces to repay debts

The Rivera court in the Detroit Institute of Arts.
Credit Maia C/Flickr

The reality of worried creditors eyeing the treasures at the DIA has the museum world watching very closely.

There are few people who want to see the museum's art leave Detroit.

But in the face of monstrous debt, should it be a case of "hands off the art"?

Recently, the Delaware Art Museum announced it had decided, "with heavy hearts, but clear minds" to sell up to four works from its collection to repay debt from an expansion and thus, keep its door open.

We wanted to get a museum expert's view in this debate, so we welcomed the director of the University of Michigan's Museum Studies Program, Ray Silverman.

Listen to the full interview.

Stateside
5:31 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Filmmakers will capture "one day in Detroit" this Saturday

Screen shot from a "One Day" film.
Credit onedayindetroit.org

On Saturday, hundreds of folks with cameras in hand will descend upon Detroit.

Their mission is to document stories that most affect the future of the city. The stories they capture will become part of a TV series on the future of the American city.

It's called “One Day in Detroit: Your Day, Your City, Your Future.”

Detroit is one of 11 cities across America to be a part of this "One Day" event.

The co-founder and executive producer of One Day on Earth, Brandon Litman, joined us today. And we also welcomed Stephen McGee, the local producer of “One Day in Detroit.”

*Listen to the audio above.

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