Politics & Government

Politics
7:49 am
Wed June 20, 2012

The week in Michigan politics

Matthileo Flickr

Every Wednesday, we speak with Michigan Radio's political analyst Jack Lessenberry about what's going on in state politics. On tap for this week: Mitt Romney campaigns in Michigan, the debate over the word "vagina" continues at the state Capitol and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing says he'd like to rid the city of its top lawyer.

Politics & Government
1:49 am
Wed June 20, 2012

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney finishes small town tour in Holland

Mitt Romney at Holland State Park Tuesday evening.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

“This is a defining time for this country. That’s a place where the president and I agree,” the Republican Presidential candidate said in Holland Tuesday night. Thousands of Romney supporters in shorts and sandals rallied on the shore of Lake Michigan at Holland State Park.

Romney’s 20-minute long speech focused on how important a strong American economy and military are to the rest of the world.

“American strength is the best ally peace has ever known. We must strike for a strong America,” Romney said.

Romney says the president’s health care overhaul is hurting small businesses. He says the economy is being dragged down by uncertainty about the federal debt. He says he worries that the United States is headed on the same path as Greece.

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Politics & Government
6:35 pm
Tue June 19, 2012

Top Detroit lawyer refuses request to resign; Bing will take case to City Council

Krystal Crittendon
City of Detroit

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing has asked the city’s top lawyer, Krystal Crittendon, to resign—and she’s refused.

Now, Bing says he’ll make a case for removing her to the Detroit City Council.

Crittendon recently went against Bing’s wishes by pressing a legal challenge to the city’s consent agreement with the state.

Crittendon said she was obligated to do that because she believed the consent agreement violated the city charter. And she insisted the charter allowed her to act independently of Bing.

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Politics & Government
3:16 pm
Tue June 19, 2012

Romney attacks Obama in Michigan appearances

Rick Pluta Michigan Radio

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney wraps up a day-long campaign swing through Michigan tonight with a rally at the Holland State Park on the Lake Michigan shoreline.

Romney began the day in Frankenmuth, where he went on the attack against President Obama on the state of the economy, the new health care law, and energy policy.

“He may want to make things better. He just doesn’t know how to do to it," said Romney of Obama. "I think in order to create jobs in the private sector, it helps to have had a job in the private sector and I have.”

Romney acknowledged Michigan’s economic recovery and said he would do the same for the rest of the country if he wins the election. He opposed federal aid for the Detroit auto companies that are still the dominant force in the state’s economy.

Romney says he can be the first Republican nominee in 24 years to win Michigan.

“It is essential for America to grab that torch and hold it high," he said. "We’re that shining city on a hill. We’re going to do it with your help. I’m going to win Michigan with your help. We’re going to take back the White House. We’re going to get America on track and keep it the hope of the Earth.”

Romney was born in Detroit and is the son of former Governor George Romney.

Protesters also showed up at the Romney campaign stops but were kept at a distance. Democrats sponsored their own bus tour of the state yesterday.

"If you listen to a Mitt Romney speech, you’ll hear almost nothing about his plans, almost nothing about his time as governor of Massachusetts, and almost all about distorting the President’s record," said Brad Woodhouse of the Democratic National Committee. 

From Frankenmuth, Romney went to DeWitt, Mich.

Election 2012
1:52 pm
Tue June 19, 2012

Mitt Romney campaigning in DeWitt, Mich.

Ann and Mitt Romney
Rick Pluta Michigan Public Radio Network

Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney began speaking a short time ago to a crowd in DeWitt, Mich. Michigan Public Radio Network's Rick Pluta sent along these photos. Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith will be in Holland this evening covering Romney's campaign stop in West Michigan.

Politics & Government
1:48 pm
Tue June 19, 2012

Former Mich. lawmaker Van Regenmorter dies at 73

Former West Michigan lawmaker William Van Regenmorter, whose noteworthy accomplishments included his authorship of the Crime Victim's Rights Act of 1985, has died. He was 73.

Family friend Joseph Crawford says Van Regenmorter, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2003, died Monday at his home in Ottawa County's Georgetown Township.

The Republican served in the House from 1983-90 before being elected to the Senate, where he served from 1991-2002. He became a representative again from 2003-06.

Van Regenmorter served as chairman of the House and Senate judiciary committees for more than 16 years. Under the Crime Victim's Rights Act, victims are required to be notified and consulted during the various steps of the legal process, such as before a prosecutor offers a plea bargain to a defendant.

Politics
7:05 am
Tue June 19, 2012

Democrats, protesters prep for Romney visit

Mitt Romney plans to visit Michigan today
Gage Skidmore Flickr

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney will be in Michigan today to wind up a tour of battleground states. The states were all won by President Obama four years ago, and Republicans need to flip one or more of them to win the White House.

Republicans like their chances in Michigan. Romney and his wife were both born here. His father served as governor. Some recent polls suggest the state’s a toss-up.

But no Republican presidential nominee has won the state since 1988, and Romney opposed much of the auto bailout that’s credited with leading the state’s economic recovery.

So Democrats sponsored their own bus tour with stops not far from where Romney will appear.

“One of the things we wanted to do is greet Mitt Romney with some headlines about what we think his policies will do to Michigan, and so we wanted to get out ahead of him," says Brad Woodhouse of the Democratic National Committee.

The liberal group MoveOn.org plans have protesters waiting for Romney at each stop in his tour, which will wind up with a rally near Holland on the Lake Michigan shoreline.

Politics
6:34 am
Tue June 19, 2012

“Vagina Monologues” attracts thousands at state Capitol (Slideshow)

Thousands of people gathered last night at the state Capitol to protest with a staging of the "Vagina Monologues."
Rick Pluta Michigan Public Radio Network

A few thousand people crowded onto the lawn of the state Capitol last night to protest last week's silencing  of two female state lawmakers, and to watch a performance of “The Vagina Monologues.”

Michigan Public Radio Network's Rick Pluta was there and reports that, "the word 'vagina' was everywhere – emblazoned on signs and t-shirts. 'Vagina,' and virtually every slang variation, was part of the theatrical performance. People shouted it out and waved their fingers in Vs. 'Gimme the three Vs! Vagina! Voice! Vote!'

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Politics & Government
8:21 pm
Mon June 18, 2012

Minister fighting for gay rights in Holland appears in court

In August 2011 Reverend Bill Freeman (right) is one of at least a hundred people who march to protest Holland City's Council's vote not to add sexual orientation and gender identity to its anti-discrimination laws.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

An Ottawa County judge is considering whether to dismiss a case against a minister who has stood up for gay rights in the City of Holland.

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Politics & Government
8:01 pm
Mon June 18, 2012

Conservationists worry about plan to cap amount of publicly owned land in Michigan

Pure Michigan

Governor Snyder will soon have to decide if he will sign a bill that would cap the amount of public land the state can own. Some conservationists are suggesting the governor should veto the bill.

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Politics & Government
6:32 pm
Mon June 18, 2012

Detroit will pay for extra cops at fireworks, asks for 'regional' support in the future

Detroit fireworks
The Parade Company via theparade.org

Suburban law enforcement officers will help Detroit Police keep the peace at this year’s riverfront fireworks.

But city officials warn it’s the last time the city will pick up the security tab for a major “regional” event.

“We can’t continue this way, with the financial condition that the city’s in," Deputy Mayor Kirk Lewis said Monday. "Nor does it really make sense, in particular, for regional events…to not have the region help support those.”

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Politics & Government
3:29 pm
Mon June 18, 2012

Protest performance of Vagina Monologues planned at Capitol

Eve Ensler, writer of "The Vagina Monologues" will attend the protest performance tonight in Lansing
Justin Hoch Wikimedia Commons

There will be a protest performance tonight of “The Vagina Monologues” at the state Capitol. Female legislators and author Eve Ensler will read from the play that was first performed in 1996.

The event is a response to state House Republican leaders’ decision to bar two female lawmakers from speaking on the floor last week. It was a punishment for comments made by state Representatives Lisa Brown and Barb Byrum during a debate.

Brown says she has heard from people in virtually every state of the union. 

“You know what? I think it has triggered an outrage amongst the American people," she said. "Not just women, but men as well and to see this kind of disregard, the disrespect and it really is a war on women. It’s not just a sound bite.  There really is a war on women.” 

Brown will be one of the performers tonight.

More than 3,500 people have posted on Facebook that they plan to attend the event.

Commentary
10:11 am
Mon June 18, 2012

Commentary: Detroit, now what?

A week ago, it seemed possible that Detroit could be only days away from an Emergency Manager and bankruptcy. The city’s top lawyer had defied the mayor’s wishes and filed a lawsuit to stop the carefully crafted consent agreement designed to allow city and state officials to share power.

If her suit had dragged on, the city would quickly have run out of cash. But it was speedily thrown out of court, and with that, the consent agreement saved, just in the nick of time.

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Politics & Government
1:01 am
Mon June 18, 2012

Catholic nuns bringing anti-budget cutting message to Michigan this week

Nunsonthebus.com

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney isn’t the only one with a bus tour passing through Michigan this week.

A group of Catholic nuns will be touring the state to criticize Republican plans to cut federal spending.

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Politics & Government
5:06 pm
Fri June 15, 2012

Detroit finance team meets for first time

user cletch flickr

Detroit mayor Dave Bing opened the first meeting of the city's newly formed financial advisory board by telling its members their task is to help return Detroit to greatness.

The problem is, the city has a massive budget deficit to wrestle with while it tries to keep the street lights on and the busses running.

Sheila Cockrel served on the city council for 16 years before retiring in 2009. She says there needs to be a major shift in the culture for the intervention to work.

"Them and us doesn't work," Cockrel said. "This is not someone taking something away. This has got to be everybody coming to the table for the common good and for the greater good. 'Cause what's good for Detroit is good for Michigan."

The nine-member board is mandated by the city's consent agreement with the state.

Politics & Government
3:51 pm
Fri June 15, 2012

Obama immigration policy change gets mixed review in Michigan

Advocates for undocumented immigrants at a recent rally on the steps of the state capitol in Lansing
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A major change in U.S. immigration policy is getting a mixed reaction from advocates for undocumented immigrants in Michigan. 

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Politics & Government
12:36 pm
Fri June 15, 2012

LIVE VIDEO: Deal reached for new bridge to Canada

Gov. Rick Snyder and Lt. Gov. Brian Calley announced that they will join Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper and other U.S. and Canadian officials at 12:45 p.m. at  The Hilton Windsor Hotel for what the Governor's Office is calling "an announcement of significant economic importance to Michigan and Canada." Watch the live stream of this announcement here:

Update: live-streaming link taken offline after announcement. Click here for more coverage.

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Commentary
10:33 am
Fri June 15, 2012

Commentary: Legislators, behaving badly?

You couldn’t say yesterday was a slow news day. We learned that Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, would join Governor Rick Snyder today to announce the new bridge over the Detroit River.

The Michigan House of Representatives voted to slash the state income tax over the next six years, without, however, explaining how the state is expected to pay for the services it needs.

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News Roundup
8:10 am
Fri June 15, 2012

In this morning's news...

In this morning's news...
Brother O'Mara Flickr

A new bridge to Canada

Officials have struck a deal to build a new Canadian-financed bridge linking Detroit and Windsor, Ontario.

The Associated Press released some details this morning:

A summary of the agreement provided Friday morning to The Associated Press states Michigan wouldn't be obligated to pay any of the costs of the bridge. Both countries would be represented on a bridge board, and a Canadian entity would handle design, construction and operation.

A formal announcement from Gov. Snyder and Prime Minister Harper will be made at a press conference later today. We'll post a live stream of the announcement.

Earlier this week, House Republicans took action preventing Michigan tax dollars from being spent on an international bridge project. Advocates for the bridge have been saying no Michigan tax dollars were needed for quite some time.

A referendum on Michigan's emergency manager law headed for November ballot

Michigan's Court of Appeals announced yesterday they will not convene a special panel to review last Friday's decision to allow the emergency manager referendum to go forward.

Challengers of the petition drive said the petitions should not be accepted because the font size was too small. The case could, however, go before the Michigan Supreme Court, as we reported:

The conservative group is challenging the ballot initiative on a technicality that the font size on the petition is too small. They say they will appeal the decision to the Michigan Supreme Court.

“This is a controversy of their own choosing. They chose not to go to the State Board of Canvassers in the beginning," Bob LaBrant said. He's with The Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility, the coalition of business groups opposed to the referendum.

Vagina... there, we said it

Yesterday, two Democratic members of the Michigan House of Representatives were barred from speaking in the chamber. One was barred for mentioning her vagina during a floor debate on a package of anti-abortion bills.

Another for an outburst for not being recognized to speak.

MPRN's Rick Pluta reported "this is the first time in memory that lawmakers have been formally barred from participating in floor debates."

State Representatives Lisa Brown and Barb Byrum are both Democrats. Brown made a reference to her vagina in a floor statement.

“I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my vagina,” she said, “but 'no' means 'no.'”

Byrum shouted at the presiding officer after she was not recognized to speak. 

Ari Adler is the spokesman for the House Republican leadership.

“It is the responsibility of every member who serves in the House of Representatives to maintain decorum on the House floor and when they do not do that, there can be actions because of that. And the action today is to not recognize either representative to speak on the House floor," he said.

The Representatives were barred from floor debate for one day.

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Politics
7:12 pm
Thu June 14, 2012

Detroit City Council approves financial board picks, moves ahead with consent agreement

The Detroit City Council is moving ahead to implement the city’s consent agreement with the state.

The Council had delayed appointing its two members to a nine-member financial advisory board while the city’s corporation counsel challenged the consent deal in court.

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