Politics & Government

Politics
4:51 pm
Wed June 6, 2012

Democratic and Republican party leaders trade jabs over controversial party switch

State Democratic and Republican party leaders continue to fight over the recent party switch by a Michigan state representative.

State Democratic Party chairman Mark Brewer delivered a letter today to State House Speaker Jase Bolger’s Kalamazoo office demanding he reveal more about his role in the party switch of state representative Roy Schmidt.

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Commentary
10:19 am
Wed June 6, 2012

Commentary: Detroit’s Self-inflicted Agony

Two months ago, Detroit City Council agreed, at the last possible moment, to enter into a consent agreement with the state.

The city was fast running out of cash, and was facing a situation where the governor would virtually have been forced to appoint an emergency manager to run the city.

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News Roundup
8:06 am
Wed June 6, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines...

Morning News Roundup, Wednesday, June 6th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Budget Heads to Snyder

The state’s budget for schools, universities, and community colleges is on its way to Governor Rick Snyder. “This budget is a stark contrast to last year – when lawmakers passed widespread spending cuts, and many businesses saw a tax reduction. Democrats complain this budget does not make up for last year’s cuts to education. Governor Rick Snyder says he’s pleased the state put money into its rainy day savings, and was able to offer modest increases to schools and universities. The new budget will require universities to meet performance standards to qualify for their full funding. It could also penalize Michigan State University for requiring students to carry health coverage or buy it through the school. The spending plan also sets aside money for an election year income tax cut,” Rick Pluta reports.

Union Dues

A lawyer says a Detroit federal judge plans to block a new state law that stops school districts from deducting union dues from paychecks, the Associated Press reports. From the AP:

Union lawyer Mark Cousens says Judge Denise Page Hood ruled from the bench Tuesday and plans to issue an injunction today. The law took effect in late March but doesn't affect districts that still have active contracts with teachers and other union-represented employees. Unions say the law was retaliation by Republican lawmakers and GOP Gov. Rick Snyder after unions began collecting signatures to protect collective bargaining in the state Constitution. The law passed by only two votes in the House and two in the Senate. Supporters say teachers and other school employees can pay dues and fees without payroll deduction.

Bus Ridership Increases

Several cities in Michigan saw large increases in bus ridership in the first quarter of this year. But the state's largest city saw a decline. “Bus ridership on "The Rapid" jumped 12 percent in the Grand Rapids metro area. Ann Arbor's bus system saw a 9 percent increase, which officials also attribute to better service.  But in Detroit, bus ridership fell six and a half percent.  That's in contrast to almost every other major U.S. city, where bus ridership grew in the first quarter. Detroit's system is notorious for buses that don't show up or that break down,” Tracy Samilton reports.

Politics
7:59 am
Wed June 6, 2012

The Week in Michigan Politics

Contemplative Flickr

Every Wednesday we sit down with Michigan Radio's Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry to take a look at the political stories making news this week in Michigan. Today: the state budget is one step closer to being finalized, reports say an announcement on a new Detroit to Windsor international bridge could be coming soon, and we take a look at what Scott Walker's win in Wisconsin yesterday means for Michigan.

Politics
5:10 pm
Tue June 5, 2012

Lt. Gov. Calley: I expect the owners of the Ambassador Bridge to continue the campaign of deceit

J. Stephen Conn Flickr

Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley is continuing to push for the need to secure an additional international border crossing between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario. The new bridge would directly connect Michigan’s freeway system with that of its most important trading partner, Canada.

Calley says the Snyder administration will continue to plow ahead with “the end-to-end border solution that Michigan manufacturing needs,” despite some anticipated pushback.

“We don’t have a final determination of the plan as of yet, although we’re zeroing in. I do expect that the owners of the Ambassador Bridge will continue the campaign of deceit and the campaign of lies on what the proposal actually is," Calley says.

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Politics
3:09 pm
Tue June 5, 2012

WI Governor Walker faces recall... what does it mean for Governor Snyder

What will a Scott Walker recall mean for Governor Snyder's policies, and popularity, in Michigan?
wmrice Flicker

It's a big day in Wisconsin as voters in that state are deciding whether or not to recall their Republican Governor Scott Walker. Here in Michigan, however, Republican Governor Rick Snyder is faring a little better.

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Commentary
10:05 am
Tue June 5, 2012

Commentary: What To Learn From the McCotter Mess

If you want a measure of how politically screwed up things can get, consider the choice for Congress voters in Michigan’s eleventh congressional district could face this fall.

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News Roundup
8:20 am
Tue June 5, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines...

Morning News Roundup, Tuesday, June 5th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Light Rail in Southeast Michigan?

Elected leaders and private backers of the proposed Woodward Avenue light rail line met yesterday with federal transit officials in Detroit. Sarah Cwiek reports:

Backers left the meeting with yet another 60-day deadline to try and secure federal funding. The so-called M-1 light rail project has had a lot of dramatic ups and downs in the past few months. Governor Rick Snyder and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing—at U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s urging—decided to switch an initial federal grant for the project to a regional rapid bus system in January. But M-1’s private backers, including Detroit businessmen Roger Penske and Dan Gilbert, have continued to push for the project. Federal officials are worried the rail proposal still lacks some key elements—including a regional transit authority to fund and operate it. Bing, Snyder and Penske said they’ll work on addressing those concerns before the two sides meet again in 60 days. The current M-1 proposal would extend just 3.4 miles down Woodward, connecting downtown Detroit and the New Center area.

New Pipeline Post-Kalamazoo Oil Spill

Enbridge Energy will take its plans for a new oil pipeline across the state of Michigan to state regulators this week. “The new pipeline will replace the one that ruptured in 2010, spewing hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude oil into the Kalamazoo River. The Michigan Public Service Commission will meet with Enbridge officials tomorrow to discuss the company’s pipeline plan. The agency approved plans for another section of the same pipeline plan last month. The planned new pipeline is larger than the one it will replace,” Steve Carmody reports.

Anti-Bullying Policies

Every K-12 school in Michigan has to adopt an anti-bullying policy by tomorrow. “Michigan was the 48th state to pass a school anti-bullying law. Martin Ackley is with the Michigan Department of Education. He said the law is very important to help students feel safe. ‘The bottom line is to protect the kids who are being bullied because it is definitely not deserved and it’s not helpful to the kids, to the school, to the families, to the communities and the consequences are dire,’ Ackley said. Each school in Michigan will draft its own anti-bullying policy which will include state guidelines,” Emily Fox reports.

News Roundup
8:49 am
Mon June 4, 2012

In this morning's news...

Brother O'Mara Flickr

Federal investment in Detroit light rail? Ray LaHood in Detroit today

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will be in Detroit today to meet with a group of business leaders and government officials. The topic of discussion will be the on-again, off-again light rail system in Detroit.

More from MPRN's Rick Pluta:

The M-1 project on the main thoroughfare of Woodward Avenue could eventually connect with a regional system.

Governor Rick Snyder plans to attend. He says light rail is part of a strategy to make Michigan’s largest city as attractive to entrepreneurs and young people as Chicago or Boston...

Businesspeople and government officials hope for more federal financial support for the project, which would operate for several years before reaching the break-even point.

Detroit's top lawyer says consent agreement with the state is not legal

Detroit's consent agreement with the state of Michigan is facing a legal challenge by Krystal Crittendon. More from the Detroit News:

The city's top attorney, Krystal A. Crittendon, could single-handedly derail the historic consent agreement between the city and state if she can convince a judge to endorse her opinion that the document is illegal.

Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek reports Crittendon doesn't have the full support of Mayor Dave Bing and some city council members:

Mayor Dave Bing initially made conflicting statements about a legal challenge. He publicly opposed it, but then admitted he supported the “concept” of the letter.

But now Bing says litigation would be a distraction.

Officials with the state have called the challenge nonsense. They plan to move forward with the agreement.

Venus and the Sun come together for a once-in-a-lifetime show

Tonight, the planet Venus can be seen crossing in front of the sun. It's known as the "transit of Venus" and it only happens once around every one hundred years.

Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith says she "stumbled across the transit while gulping down an awesome new beer at one of my favorite spots in Benton Harbor, The Livery Microbrewery."

People in Michigan will be able to see the transit of Venus for a roughly three hour window beginning at 6 o’clock and lasting until the sun sets.

The transit won’t happen again until the year 2117, so it’s a pretty big deal to professional and amateur astronomers alike.

“Oh yeah, we’re having a full out party,” said Richard Bell, President of the Kalamazoo Astronomical Society.

Politics
8:20 pm
Sun June 3, 2012

City of Detroit lawyer challenges consent agreement; state vows to "move forward"

Detroit’s top lawyer is going to court to challenge the city’s consent agreement with the state. But she doesn’t have the full support of Mayor Dave Bing, or some Detroit City Council members.

Corporation counsel Krystal Crittendon wrote a letter to state officials weeks ago.

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Politics
7:32 pm
Sat June 2, 2012

McCotter drops plans for a write-in campaign to hang on to Michigan congressional seat

Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, (R) Michigan

Michigan Congressman Thaddeus McCotter has decided to drop plans for a write-in campaign for the November ballot.

The decision effectively ends the southeast Michigan congressman’s tenure in Washington after five terms.

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Crime
6:29 pm
Sat June 2, 2012

Michigan Supreme Court clears way for Detroit vote on marijuana

(Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The Michigan Supreme Court has cleared the way for Detroiters to vote on whether their city will be the first in the state to legalize marijuana.

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Politics
9:41 pm
Fri June 1, 2012

Is Michigan the "comeback state?" It depends who you ask.

A sign in a Sterling Heights convenience store. The city had to cut police and firefighters for the first time this year.
Sarah Cwiek Michigan Radio

Governor Snyder has been busy touting Michigan as America’s “comeback state"--most recently at last week's Mackinac Island Policy Conference.

Unemployment is dropping as the US auto industry is booming again. And the state has a budget surplus for the first time in many years.

But many of Michigan’s local leaders say they’re not seeing any comeback.

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It's Just Politics
5:30 pm
Fri June 1, 2012

Dirty politics: The new normal in Michigan?

Intrigue. Deception. Conspiracy... Yes, it certainly feels like politics in Michigan is becoming a little more wrought with fraud-filled stories. In this week's It's Just Politics, we ask: are dirty politics the new normal in Michigan?

Zoe Clark: Allegations of fraud. That’s the big political story this week.

Rick Pluta: Petition fraud – it’s the new hanging chad.

ZC: Can we call this the “Hanging Thad” scandal?

RP: You are referring, of course, to Thad McCotter.

ZC: The Republican congressman from Livonia, failed presidential candidate and guitar hero is not disputing that he does not have enough petition signatures to qualify for the primary ballot.

RP: He did own up. He released a statement, accepting “full responsibility” – his words -- for the screw-up...  And then he blamed someone else, that he had trusted the wrong people. 

ZC: That’s the way the pros do it! But it’s why he doesn’t have the signatures that’s so….. weird.

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Commentary
12:40 pm
Fri June 1, 2012

Tale of Two Races

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing couldn't have enjoyed reading his city's newspapers when he woke up on Mackinac Island yesterday morning. The Detroit Free Press splashed a story across its front page saying the business community wanted longtime Wayne County political fixer Mike Duggan as the city's next mayor.

The Detroit News's editorial page editor said the business community had decided that it is time for the mayor to go, and then called on the mayor to, quote "use the excuse of advancing age and poor health" to not run again next year.

Yesterday morning the mayor came out to face the press, and naturally, was asked about his own future. Standing on the Grand Hotel's magnificent porch, all the mayor would tell us reporters was that he had eighteen months left in his current term (it's actually nineteen), and he felt the need to "get as many things done as I possibly can." Now, I don't have an opinion on whether the mayor ought to run. He previously has said he was going to.

Frankly, if you know anything about how government works, the worst thing Bing could do would be to announce early that he isn't running. The moment he does that, he becomes a lame duck, and immediately loses much of his power and influence.

But beyond that, I am astonished at the business community's chutzpah in attempting to say who ought to be Detroit's mayor. Do they think our memories are that short?

Seven years ago, the business community was highly decisive in a Detroit mayoral race. Freman Hendrix was one of the final two candidates. He was a decent man with a finance background who had served as deputy mayor in the Archer administration.

Hendrix had grown up in a working class neighborhood. He had joined the Navy, and had put himself through college. I thought he had the potential to be a good mayor who had the ability to relate to average citizens. But the business community wanted the incumbent: Kwame Kilpatrick.

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News Roundup
7:33 am
Fri June 1, 2012

In this morning's news...

Brother O'Mara Flickr

Lawmakers miss self-imposed budget deadline of June 1

June 1 was the self-imposed deadline for passing the budget, but because lawmakers couldn't finalize plans on state education spending, the state legislature's budget won't be finalized until next week. MLive's Tim Martin has more on the legislature's plan for education spending.

Lawmakers did pass a bill yesterday that covers all other state government spending. Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody reports Birmingham state representative Chuck Moss said the budget bill is not perfect:

“No budget is,” Moss said during the debate on the House floor,  “But the perfect is the enemy of the good.”

Democrats opposed the budget saying it helps businesses and corporations in the state at the expense of the poor, middle class, and senior citizens.

Michigan AG launches investigation into McCotter petitions

Michigan's Republican Attorney General issued a statement yesterday saying he was starting an investigation into U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter's re-election campaign. Primary ballot petitions needed to get McCotter's name on the August primary ballot appeared to have many irregularities, including duplicate signatures. From the Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire blog:

Attorney General Bill Schuette, in a statement Thursday, said his office will “follow the facts, without fear or favor….If evidence of criminal violations is uncovered, we will not hesitate to prosecute.”

Mr. McCotter, in a statement said, “I thank the Michigan Secretary of State & Attorney General for commencing the criminal investigation of petitions I requested Tuesday; will assist as they see fit.”

Governor Snyder visits site of wildfire in the U.P.

Governor Rick Snyder toured the site of the Duck Lake Fire in Michigan's Upper Peninsula yesterday. The fire has burned more than 21,000 acres and crews continue to fight the blaze. The Michigan DNR is asking homeowners to contact them, even if they live out of state. More on Snyder's visit from Rick Barnes at MLive:

“It’s devastating. You see the fire, you see the structures, homes burned down,” said Snyder, who was flown over the more than 21,000 acres that burned north for 14 miles, to the Lake Superior shore...

Residents could learn Friday when they will be allowed to return to their property. Firefighters are continuing to douse stubborn hot spots, and remove dangerously standing trees.

Politics
6:29 pm
Thu May 31, 2012

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing says new budget will "restore fiscal stability to Detroit"

It looks like Detroit’s yearly budget process will get resolved without the squabbles that have plagued it in past years.

 

Mayor Dave Bing said Thursday he’ll sign the budget the Detroit City Council approved last week.

The Council made few changes to the budget plan Bing proposed back in April. It slashes nearly $250 million  from the city’s now roughly $1.1 billion budget.

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Politics
5:26 pm
Thu May 31, 2012

Gov. Snyder: Michigan should be center of N. American manufacturing

Gov. Rick Snyder
michigan.gov

Governor Rick Snyder says Michigan can be the leading center of manufacturing in North America – if the state makes the right moves.

The governor says his plan is based on the direction he sees the global economy taking.

“There’s going to be one spot that’s going to be the standout place on each continent that’s going to be the place that makes stuff and you’re going to have global organizations that are saying, when I go to a different continent, I’m going to go to the place that’s  the best at making something,” Snyder told attendees of a business conference on Mackinac Island.   

The governor says Michigan’s history, engineering expertise, and related activities such as agriculture can all combine to make the state attractive to global manufacturers. He says a new international bridge in Detroit is also part of the plan. He accuses the owners of the Ambassador Bridge, who would compete with another border crossing, of spreading lies about the cost of the project to taxpayers.  

Weekly Political Roundup
4:44 pm
Thu May 31, 2012

Are Detroit businesses looking for a fresh face in the Mayor's office?

Laughlin Elkind Flickr

Every Thursday we look at Michigan politics with Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

Mayor Dave Bing yesterday announced that he and the Detroit City Council have come to an agreement on the city's 2012-2013 budget.

The Mayor is also attending the Mackinac Policy Conference but has avoided telling reporters outright whether he plans to run for reelection.

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Politics
4:37 pm
Thu May 31, 2012

Michigan lawmakers pass (most of) a budget for next year

State House members and others look on as the votes are counted on the Omnibus 2013budget (non-education) bill
(Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

State lawmakers have passed a budget plan for most of state government for next year.

The House and Senate passed an Omnibus spending bill that covers all of state government, except education.   The state House passed the bill on a 61 to 49 vote.   The bill passed the state Senate on a 20 to 16 vote.

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