Politics & Government

Politics & Government
2:58 pm
Fri July 6, 2012

Union chief: Detroit Fire Department in 'utter chaos'

Detroit Fire Department headquarters.
Wikipedia

The head of Detroit’s firefighters union says the department is in “utter chaos” after new overtime restrictions came down this week.

City officials acknowledge the situation is difficult, but say it’s under control.

Union chief Dan McNamara says the drastic overtime restrictions—announced by memo to firefighters earlier this week--will basically cripple a fire department that’s already understaffed.

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Politics & Government
2:53 pm
Fri July 6, 2012

Renewable energy campaign files for November ballot

Wind turbines could be part of the renewable energy campaign.
user imma MorgueFile.com

The campaign to put renewable energy targets into the state constitution filed 550,000 petition signatures today to qualify for the November ballot.

This campaign pits utility companies and their employee unions against energy entrepreneurs who see a business opportunity in amending Michigan’s constitution. The amendment would require energy providers to generate a quarter of the state’s electricity using wind, solar power or other renewable resources by 2025.

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It's Just Politics
1:25 pm
Fri July 6, 2012

Snyder and GOP go from 'In a relationship' to 'It's complicated'

Governor Snyder surprised many political watchers this week by vetoing three Republican-sponsored elections reforms bills.
Photo courtesy of the Snyder administration

This week on It's Just Politics: It's all about relationships. Specifically, the relationship between Gov. Rick Snyder and his fellow Republicans in the Legislature. And, the status on this one just went from “in a relationship” to “it’s complicated.”

A Gubernatorial Veto

The Governor vetoed three bills this week – they were part of a Republican elections package, most of which he signed. The three vetoed bills would have required people applying to vote for the first time or for absentee ballots to check a box affirming they are U.S. citizens. Another would have required photo ID for an absentee ballot. And, the third would have required state training for people who want to register voters. The Governor said the bills that he vetoed were too confusing and might discourage people from voting when the should should be making it easy to vote.

Lansing Democrats, Republicans Shocked

By vetoing these bills, Snyder not only broke with legislative Republicans, but also with established Republican Party opinion on how elections should be conducted. It's a classic divide between Republicans and Democrats, conservatives versus liberals, and it reflects how each side thinks the other party games the system to pirate elections. Republicans are concerned with ballot security - making sure only people who are supposed to vote actually cast a ballot. Democrats are more concerned about ballot access - that as many people as possible are allowed to vote.

Breaking Up is Hard To Do

These recent vetoes have many political-watchers wondering: What does this mean for the relationship between Gov. Snyder and Republicans? Is the Governor standing on principle, or showing there is a price to be paid for blocking his plans for an international bridge, road funding, opposing him on immigration and health care. The joke around town used to be that when Governor Snyder said something was, "not on my agenda” that really meant: "I’ll sign it if you send it to me.” Not so much any more.

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Commentary
10:44 am
Fri July 6, 2012

Commentary: Possibility of an upset

Congressional primary races are normally pretty boring, whenever an incumbent is on the ballot. Mostly they win almost automatically. The only exceptions tend to be cases when redistricting pits two incumbents against each other.

That’s what is going on this year in the half-Detroit, half-suburban 14th District, where Democratic Congressmen Hansen Clarke and Gary Peters are going at it.

But there’s another primary race this year that is just as dramatic – but which is happening mostly under the radar.

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Politics & Government
4:42 pm
Thu July 5, 2012

Gov. Snyder and the election bills

mattileo / flickr

Every Thursday we look at Michigan politics with Ken Sikkema, former Senate majority leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service.

Republicans in the Legislature got a bit of a surprise this week when Gov. Snyder vetoed three of the 14 new bills related to voting. What would those three vetoed bills have done?

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Politics & Government
1:04 pm
Thu July 5, 2012

Commentary: The Governor Pivots

I don’t know how Governor Snyder celebrated the Fourth of July yesterday, but I have a strong hunch he didn’t stop by Secretary of State Ruth Johnson’s place for some barbecue.

The Governor stunned the secretary and other fellow Republicans Tuesday by vetoing three election bills. He said he feared they might be confusing.

“Voting rights are precious and we need to work especially hard to make it possible for people to vote,” he said.

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Politics & Government
11:46 am
Thu July 5, 2012

Raunchy TV script by Michigan's Rep. McCotter surfaces

Republican Congressman Thaddeus McCotter jams with his blues band.
Vincent Duffy Michigan Radio

Things don't seem to be going all that well in U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter's (R-Livonia) political career. His bid for the Republican presidential nomination sputtered out last year, and more recently, he was forced to give up his Congressional re-election campaign over falsified petition signatures.

But perhaps he has a future in show business.

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Politics & Government
6:50 pm
Wed July 4, 2012

43 years later, a Vietnam veteran gets his Purple Heart

Senator Carl Levin, left, awards Arnold Spencer the Purple Heart.
Sarah Cwiek Michigan Radio

A Vietnam veteran finally received one of the nation's highest military honors on this Independence Day.

Arnold Spencer got his Purple Heart more than four decades after he was wounded in the leg and refused medical evacuation.

Spencer was only 19 years old when he served as an artillery forward observer in an infantry unit in Vietnam.   

He was wounded in a firefight, but turned down a medical evacuation, allowing a more seriously-injured soldier to go in his place, and returned to his unit.

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Politics & Government
6:36 pm
Wed July 4, 2012

Occupy Grand Rapids stakes out a new campsite

About 30 people with Occupy Grand Rapids march through downtown towards their new camp.

Occupy Grand Rapids is re-launching the movement after several months of lying low. The group doesn't have specific demands, “it’s not one thing, it’s everything,” the group’s facebook page says.

But several of its members say issues like income inequality, corporate influence, and housing security are important to them.

Anita Finch drove up from Kalamazoo to take part in the renewed effort. She says strong protest movements build over time; like the anti-war movement in the 1960s.

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Politics & Government
10:17 am
Wed July 4, 2012

Detroit Congressman Clarke calls race allegations a "sickening" distraction; says he won't debate

Hansen Clarke

Detroit Congressman Hansen Clarke says his political opponents are trying to smear him by raising questions about his racial heritage.

And on Tuesday, he made it clear he’s had enough.

Clarke is in a tough primary fight against three other Democrats in Michigan’s newly-redrawn 14th district.

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Politics & Government
10:15 am
Wed July 4, 2012

Disputes continue over Detroit's consent agreement, but there is good news

Patricia Drury / flickr

It’s been a few months since the city of Detroit and the state entered into a consent agreement aimed at stabilizing the city’s finances. Since then, the financial advisory board has been formed, but there have been a few hiccups in the city’s progress, including a lawsuit brought by the city’s corporation counsel challenging the validity of the consent agreement.

Stephen Henderson is editorial page editor for the Free Press and the host of "American Black Journal.” He joined us to talk about developments around the consent agreement.

Jennifer White: Do you have a sense of whether progress in being made towards stabilizing the city?

Stephen Henderson: Well a little bit of progress has been made. We got some of the money the state promised to extend to us to keep the city from going bankrupt, and they sold about $80 million worth of bonds in the spring to do that. The second part of that funding though has been held up by this dispute about the city’s corporation counsel, and whether she can sue to stop the consent agreement from taking place. So that’s at least a little bit on hold right now. But of course we got some good news recently because the fiscal year changed over here in Detroit over the weekend. July 1 was the beginning of our fiscal year and so the city is a little bit cash rich right now, even though we still have a structural deficit. So, I think the emergency part of this might be subsiding but we still have big questions about how we’ll manage going forward.

JW:You mentioned the lawsuit brought forward by Krystal Crittendon, the city’s corporation counsel, challenging the consent agreement’s validity, and there was considerable push back from Mayor Bing and the Snyder administration. That included the threat that $28 million in revenue would be withheld from the city. When will there be resolution on that?

SH:I don’t know. That’s a big problem because she asserts that she can, on her own without the support of the mayor, challenge this agreement. Most lawyers and most judges in fact that I’ve talked to say that there’s no way she should be able to do that, but we have a city charter that does not make that terribly clear. So really to solve that problem we have to get back in to the charter and amend it. Of course it would all go away if she would just relent and say it’s not worth holding up the city’s entire existence over this question. But she’s been unable, or unwilling to do that so far.

JW:Does she have the support of city council members?

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Politics & Government
10:06 am
Wed July 4, 2012

Endorsements come down in heated Detroit Congressional primaries

Congressmen John Conyers, left, and Hansen Clarke flank Rev. Wendell Anthony as he announces Fannie Lou Hamer PAC endorsements Tuesday.
Sarah Cwiek Michigan Radio

An influential, Detroit-based Political Action Committee has made its endorsements for the August primary elections.

The Fannie Lou Hamer PAC is led by the Reverend Wendell Anthony, who also heads the Detroit branch of the NAACP.

Anthony decried the latest round of state and federal re-districting. He said it’s diluted Detroit’s voting power and caused “political havoc” in the city.

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Commentary
10:00 am
Wed July 4, 2012

Commentary: Fourth of July

When the Declaration of Independence was signed two hundred and thirty-six years ago, Michigan was a sparsely populated place which the French considered part of the province of Quebec.

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Politics & Government
1:01 am
Wed July 4, 2012

A great day for a parade (especially if you're a politician)

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D) Michigan plans to take part in two 4th of July parades today
Office of US Senator Debbie Stabenow

There are Fourth of July parades taking place all across Michigan today.

In addition to the numerous marching bands and Boy Scout troops, many parades will feature politicians.

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Politics & Government
6:37 pm
Tue July 3, 2012

Ficano calls for 20% budget cuts; department heads rebel

Robert Ficano

Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano says department heads will have to implement deep cuts.

But department heads are rebelling, and one has already threatened to sue.

In a 2-year budget plan, Ficano says all county departments will have to absorb a 20% budget cut if the Wayne County is to avoid fiscal disaster.

He says property tax revenues have plummeted, and the county faces a $155 million dollar accumulated deficit.

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Politics & Government
6:23 pm
Tue July 3, 2012

6th Congressional Republican candidates talk about Kalamazoo River oil spill

A portion of Talmadge Creek, close to where the spill originated near Marshall, Michigan. The creek has been re-routed since this picture in July 2011.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Republican Congressman Fred Upton and his primary challenger Jack Hoogendyk talked mostly about health care the federal deficit and energy issues during a debate Tuesday afternoon. The two Republicans debated for an hour on WKZO.

Their talking points were about the same but Hoogendyk says he’s more conservative than Upton, who’s been in Congress 25 years now.

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Politics & Government
3:18 pm
Tue July 3, 2012

Snyder vetoes election bills

Gov. Rick Snyder, seen here, vetoed three bills in a package of Republican-sponsored election reforms today.
Rick Snyder for Michigan Facebook.com

Update 3:18 p.m.

MPRN’s Rick Pluta reports that reactions to Gov. Snyder's vetoes today were divided across party lines:

Republicans – including Secretary of State Ruth Johnson – said the bills were reasonable ways to ensure only people who are supposed to vote cast ballots. She says the veto will not stop her from including a box on voter registration forms affirming their U.S. citizenship.

The governor did sign 11 other bills in the package. But GOP leaders in the Legislature expressed disappointment in their Republican governor’s decision to veto some of their work.

House Speaker Jase Bolger quickly issued a statement expressing his disappointment in the vetoes.    

Democrats, on the other hand, praised the decision as “courageous.”

House Democratic Leader Rick Hammell said the vetoes were “brave,” and Michigan AFL CIO President Karla Swift praised the governor for standing up to “extremists” in his party.

The governor said in a veto letter that “voting rights are precious and we need to work especially hard to make it possible for people to vote.” 

2:07 p.m.

The Michigan Election Coalition publicly thanked Gov. Rick Snyder for vetoing three election bills today. The group is a collection of organizations with the common aim of ending what it calls "voter suppression legislation" in Lansing.

In an MEC press release, Sue Smith, President of the League of Women Voters of Michigan said,

“On the eve of Independence Day, this is a huge victory for our American democracy. We want to thank Gov. Snyder for doing the right thing by vetoing this unfair and unjust legislation. While today’s action is a step in the right direction, the League of Women Voters will continue to educate voters about their rights to make sure every eligible voter can make their voice heard at the ballot box this November."

In the press release another MEC member, Melanie McElroy, Executive Director of Common Cause Michigan, said,

“Gov. Snyder’s veto pen should send a strong message to Lansing politicians that it’s time to halt these voter suppression efforts once and for all. Our elected leaders need to stop the partisan games, and start working together to expand access to voting in Michigan.”

The AP reports that Republican House Speaker Jase Bolger says he's "deeply disappointed" his party's governor vetoed "very reasonable" changes to election laws.

More from Michigan Public Radio Network's Rick Pluta to come.

12:35 p.m.

Gov. Snyder has vetoed three bills in a Republican-sponsored package.

The vetoed bills would have required people to affirm their U.S. citizenship and show a photo ID before they can get a ballot, and require people to get training before they can register voters. In both cases, the governor says, the measures would have created too much confusion about who can vote or register people to vote.

The governor signed 11 other measures including ones that would require ballot petitions to be submitted in advance for the Secretary of State to post online, and forbid the use of campaign funds to cover legal expenses unrelated to campaigning.

Politics & Government
12:15 pm
Tue July 3, 2012

Michigan campaign donation cap stands, appeals court says

user tobym Flickr

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A federal appeals court won't upset a decision that keeps limits on campaign contributions for Michigan House and Senate races.

The court says a federal judge in Grand Rapids made the right call when she refused to issue an injunction. Republican political strategist Greg McNeilly says the limits hurt his free-speech rights. He's challenging the $500 cap for state House candidates and $1,000 maximum donation to state Senate candidates.

The appeals court said Tuesday that Michigan's restrictions still don't seem to stop challengers from running competitive campaigns.

In 2010, Judge Janet Neff refused to issue an injunction two months before the general election. She says the law has been in place for decades.

Commentary
10:44 am
Tue July 3, 2012

Commentary: Black Racism?

Several weeks ago, I was contacted by someone attempting to smear Congressman Hansen Clarke, who faces a tough primary race next month to try and keep his job.

The writer told me that he had uncovered the fact that the congressman’s father was from a different country and gave his son a different name, which he later changed. Well, not only had I known that, I had written about it.

Clarke has never made a secret of either that his father was from Pakistan. Nor was it a secret that the boy was named Molik Hashem, a name he later Anglicized.

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Politics & Government
7:03 pm
Fri June 29, 2012

Contract showdown looms between Bing, unions

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and city union representatives appear to be headed for a showdown over contract negotiations.

The heart of this disagreement is Detroit’s consent agreement with the state.

There’s language in there that allows the mayor to impose union contracts after previous contracts expire. Most city workers’ contracts expired June 1.

But in a scathing letter to Bing, union officials say it doesn’t exempt the city from bargaining with unions—something they haven’t done since the two sides reached tentative agreements in February.

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