Politics & Government

Politics
12:38 pm
Thu March 22, 2012

Judge says he won't lift consent agreement ban

Wikimedia Commons

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A Michigan judge has denied a request related to the actions of the state-appointed review team analyzing Detroit's troubled finances.

Ingham County Circuit Judge William Collette on Thursday turned down a request from Gov. Rick Snyder and the financial review team to lift an earlier order keeping them from moving ahead with a consent agreement with Detroit city officials.

The judge said that must wait until his March 29 hearing examining whether the review team failed to comply with Michigan's Open Meetings Act.

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Courts
12:06 pm
Thu March 22, 2012

Jury at militia trial watches video of bomb tests

Seven on trial: top left, David Stone Sr. of Clayton, MI; Tina Stone of Clayton, MI; Jacob Ward of Huron, OH; David Stone Jr. of Adrian, MI. Bottom left, Michael Meeks of Manchester, MI,; Kristopher Sickles of Sandusky, OH; Thomas Piatek of Whiting, IN.
Base photo U.S. Marshals / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Jurors at the trial of seven Michigan militia members have watched dramatic video of bombs made by investigators from materials or diagrams linked to the group.

The jury heard loud booms Thursday and saw close-up photos of the impact of explosives on cars. Members of the Hutaree militia are charged with conspiring to rebel against the government as well as conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction.

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Commentary
10:46 am
Thu March 22, 2012

Arthur Vandenberg: Remembering a Hero

Yesterday, I was listening to Rick Santorum attack Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney for supposedly being willing to take more moderate positions in the general election campaign.

Well, there’s something to be said against being a flip-flopper, changing with every new opinion poll. But there is also something more to be said for recognizing reality.

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Politics
10:21 am
Thu March 22, 2012

Judge rules Moroun, Bridge Company officials no longer in contempt of court

Wayne County Circuit Judge Prentis Edwards lifted the civil contempt finding against the Ambassador Bridge owners today, saying they had been complying with his orders to turn the disputed Gateway project over to the Michigan Department of Transportation.

The ruling means that bridge owners Manuel (Matty) Moroun, his son Matthew, and bridge company president Dan Stamper are no longer under threat of jailing and no longer are required to attend subsequent court hearings in the case.

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News Roundup
8:56 am
Thu March 22, 2012

In this morning's news...

Morning News Roundup: Thursday, March 22nd, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Financial Crisis in Detroit

The state review team looking at Detroit’s finances yesterday formally declared the city to be in “severe financial distress.” Sarah Cwiek reports:

This means the review team will recommend some kind of state intervention in Detroit—whether it’s a consent agreement outlining steps the city must take to get out of financial distress (and likely giving elected officials some greater powers to take them), or appointing an emergency manager for the city. But, a Judge has issued an injunction forbidding a consent agreement before March 29th. The review team’s deadline to make a recommendation is March 26th. The state is appealing the injunction. Arguments are slated for today in the Michigan Court of Appeals.

Oakland County Redistricting

A fight over drawing Oakland County commission districts has made its way up to the state Supreme Court. Rick Pluta reports:

The legal battle pits Democrats in Oakland County against Republicans in the Legislature and Governor Rick Snyder. The issue is a state law that will toss out Oakland County’s current county commission map that was drawn by a board led by Democrats. The state law will turn that job over to the Oakland County Commission, which has a GOP majority. Hundreds of e-mails to and from county officials that were made public appear to show partisan motives behind the law. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the law soon. The court has a slim Republican majority.

Crops Threatened

It’s been an unseasonably warm month and that could jeopardize the state’s fruit crops. “While it's not unusual to have warm spells in early spring, it is unusual is for temperatures to average 40 degrees higher than normal for several weeks,” Rina Miller reports. "This is pretty much unprecedented," Matthew Grieshop, assistant professor at Michigan State University says. "It was back in the early 40s that we last had weather like this, and based on our experience, it looks pretty grim for the fruit growers."

Politics
8:36 am
Thu March 22, 2012

The Week in State Politics

Contemplative Imaging Flickr

There sure was lots of news this week about Michigan's emergency manager law - from legal wrangling over how the Open Meetings Act affects how financial decisions are made to the reappointment of Flint's Mayor. Michigan Radio's Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry took a look this morning at the latest.

Politics
10:23 pm
Wed March 21, 2012

State review team talks options for Detroit

The state review team looking at Detroit’s finances met again Wednesday, and formally declared the city to be in “severe financial distress.”

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Politics
3:24 pm
Wed March 21, 2012

Don't believe the hype; gas prices not linked to domestic drilling

A new analysis by the Associated Press found no correlation between domestic oil drilling and gas prices in the U.S.

So this famous line will get you applause...

... but it won't get you lower gas prices.

"Drill, baby, drill has nothing to do with it," said Judith Dwarkin, chief energy economist at ITG investment research. Two other energy economists said the same thing and experts in the field have been making that observation for decades.

And it's not just Republicans who make these kind of claims.

Placing blame for high gas prices is low-hanging, point-scoring fruit for any politician.

The Associated Press points out that on the campaign trail in 2008, then presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama said "here in Ohio, you're paying nearly $3.70 a gallon for gas, 2-1/2 times what it cost when George Bush took office."

He's not blaming the White House occupant these days.

The Associated Press' Seth Borenstein and Jack Gillum wrote "statistical analysis of 36 years of monthly, inflation-adjusted gasoline prices and U.S. domestic oil production by The Associated Press shows no statistical correlation between how much oil comes out of U.S. wells and the price at the pump."

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Politics
1:49 pm
Wed March 21, 2012

Changes coming to Michigan's concealed handgun law?

JMR Photography Flickr

John Barnes at MLive.com reports today on potential new changes coming for Michigan's concealed handgun law.

The details of the proposal are expected to be taken up tomorrow morning in the Michigan Senate's Natural Resources, Environment and Great Lakes Committee.

The changes could allow license holders who receive extra training to carry handguns in places currently off-limits under the law, such as sports stadiums, churches, and schools.

Barnes writes that the proposed measure hopes to increase the accuracy of reports on permit holders who violate the law:

Additional measures in the bill are aimed at ensuring mandatory annual reports on permit holders who run afoul of the law are more accurate.

The MLive investigation last summer found many prosecutors and clerks refused to do them. Those that did frequently made mistakes, under-reporting convictions and revocations for gun- and non-gun crimes.

Politics
1:36 pm
Wed March 21, 2012

Rep. Miller switches support from Perry to Romney

Miller represents Michigan's 10th Congressional District
Candice Miller's official website

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan Rep. Candice Miller has endorsed Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney after originally backing Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

Perry dropped out before Michigan's Feb. 28 GOP presidential primary, but remained on the ballot. The Romney campaign announced Miller's support on Wednesday.

She says Romney is the "person we need to lead our country" on the economy and other issues.

Miller is serving her fifth term as the congresswoman from Michigan's 10th District, which includes northern Macomb County and much of Michigan's Thumb. Former Massachusetts Gov. Romney won 16 of Michigan's GOP
national convention delegates in the primary election, while former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum won 14.

The Santorum campaign continues to contest whether Romney should have gotten two at-large delegates or only one.

Politics
12:01 pm
Wed March 21, 2012

What's in a consent agreement? Do you really want to know?

Are you confused about the proposed “consent agreement” the state is trying to work out with Detroit?

If so, count yourself one among many, including me, and I’ve been covering the story nearly every day for the past couple of weeks. In fact, I’m fairly sure that all the parties involved are confused.

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Politics
11:31 am
Wed March 21, 2012

Tribe considers recognizing same-sex marriages

HARBOR SPRINGS, Mich. (AP) - The Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians' tribal council is considering a constitutional amendment that would recognize same-sex marriages.

The Petoskey News-Review and WPBN-TV report the American Indian tribe would be the first in Michigan and among a few nationwide to legalize gay marriages if the amendment is adopted.

Most of the about 4,000 people in the tribe live in Michigan's northern Lower Peninsula. If the measure is approved, at least one of partner would have to be a member of the tribe. The idea was initially encouraged by two tribal citizens in a letter to the tribal council urging consideration of an amendment.

The proposal currently is in a public comment period. The current tribal constitution defines marriage as between "one man and one woman."

Commentary
10:48 am
Wed March 21, 2012

Age of Consent: Avoiding an emergency manager in Detroit

In Michigan, everybody’s well-being depends to some extent on Detroit not collapsing into economic chaos. It doesn’t matter what you think of the city. The healthier Detroit is, the more easy it becomes to attract business, jobs and people to the state.

So if you realize that, yesterday seemed like a pretty dismal day as city and state officials struggled to try and avoid an emergency manager.  Last week, Governor Rick Snyder presented a proposed consent agreement to the city which was met by furious hostility.

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Politics
10:36 am
Wed March 21, 2012

Report: State lawmaker's blood alcohol level was over the legal limit after his DUI arrest

Rep. Bob Genetski, (R) Saugatuck
Official website

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Test results say state Rep. Bob Genetski's blood-alcohol level was at a point considered intoxicated under Michigan law about an hour and a half after his drunken driving arrest.

MLive.com reports  Genetski's blood-alcohol level was at Michigan's legal limit of 0.08 percent following the early Jan. 19 traffic stop in East Lansing. The news organization obtained the results of the court-ordered test following a Freedom of Information Act request.

Genetski's attorney, Mike Nichols, on Wednesday told The Associated Press he was restrained from commenting about the results of the test because they would be evidence.

The Saugatuck Republican was arrested after he refused to take a Breathalyzer test. He was ticketed and his drunken driving case is pending.

Politics
5:39 am
Wed March 21, 2012

In this morning's news...

Judge restores power to Flint's mayor and city council

An Ingham County judge has restored authority to Flint's mayor and city council while ruling a state review team violated Michigan's Open Meetings Act during the process that led to a state-appointed emergency manager. The order Tuesday from Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina is another legal defeat for Governor Rick Snyder's administration since the adoption of a state law last year that gave emergency managers expanded powers when appointed to help cities and schools fix their finances. Aquilina's order comes in a lawsuit brought by the leader of a union that represents some city of Flint employees. The decision invalidates last year's appointment of Flint emergency manager Michael Brown. Snyder pokeswoman Geralyn Lasher said the state will appeal the ruling to the Michigan Court of Appeals.
 

State Supreme Court to hear Oakland County Board of Commissioners case

The Michigan Supreme Court is getting ready to hear oral arguments over who has the power to redraw lines for the Oakland County Board of Commissioners' districts. Lawyers for the Republican-controlled board and Oakland County Democrats will argue the case at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday in the Hall of Justice. The justices will decide at a later date whether they'll take up the case on appeal. The Court of Appeals and a lower court already have ruled that a law passed last year by the GOP-controlled Legislature to give redistricting power to the commission rather than a bipartisan apportionment committee was a local act affecting only one government. The courts said the measure didn't meet constitutional requirements because it didn't pass with the necessary two-thirds majorities in the House and Senate.
 

Interlochen Arts Academy celebrates 50th anniversary

The Interlochen Arts Academy is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a national concert tour. The academy's orchestra, band and choir are set to play Chicago's Harris Theater on Wednesday. They'll be at Orchestra Hall in Detroit on Thursday. The tour wraps up with shows in Washington on Saturday and New York on Monday. The students, faculty and staff will travel 2,200 miles by bus, transport 992 pieces of luggage and gobble up 6,750 boxed lunches along the way. Founded in 1962, the boarding fine arts high school has produced dozens of Grammy winners and Presidential Scholars. In 2006, the Interlochen Arts Academy was awarded the National Medal of Arts, the nation's highest honor for an arts organization. The school sits on a 1,200-acre campus in northwestern Michigan near Traverse City.

Politics
7:16 pm
Tue March 20, 2012

Injunction puts Detroit consent agreement in doubt; state review team to meet Wednesday

user PeRshGo wikimedia commons

Legal wrangling over Public Act 4, Michigan’s emergency manager law, has put the state’s ability to work out a consent agreement with Detroit in jeopardy.

State leaders and some Detroit officials want to work out an agreement that would prevent the city from going broke in the next couple of months—without appointing an emergency manager.

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Politics
3:56 pm
Tue March 20, 2012

Do business with Iran? One lawmaker says you shouldn't do business with the state of Michigan

 A state House committee takes up legislation tomorrow to prevent companies with ties to Iran from doing business with the state of Michigan.

Republican lawmaker Marty Knollenberg admits he doesn’t know of any Michigan businesses working with Iran. But he says it sends an important message.

“This brings attention to the problems of Iran," says Knollenberg, " They are a threat. They are a rogue nation.  We need to put this issue on the forefront.”  

Knollenberg says state and federal sanctions may help prevent the Iranian government from developing nuclear weapons. 

Politics
3:52 pm
Tue March 20, 2012

Medical pot opponents target glaucoma

Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Update:

The state Senate could vote this week on the first major amendment to the Michigan medical marijuana law since it was adopted by voters in 2008. A measure approved Tuesday by a Senate committee would remove the eye disease glaucoma from the list of conditions that would qualify a patient for a medical marijuana card.

Doctor David Newman is the president of the Michigan State Medical Society. He says glaucoma never should have been part of the proposal.

“The medical marijuana act was approved by public referendum but the language presented to the voters presented unclear information and, in this case, was contrary to the medical evidence on glaucoma,” Newman said. 

Newman says marijuana, at the most, can only offer very short-term relief from the symptoms of glaucoma. He says the bigger problem for doctors is that patients use it instead of proven medical strategies for controlling the condition and preventing blindness.

But some glaucoma patients like Barbara Knox showed up at a state Senate committee meeting to oppose the bill. Knox says she uses marijuana along with her prescribed medication.

“If you had my eyes, would you not do everything you could to prevent blindness?” Knox asked. “The thought of going blind just terrifies me. Please, please help me save my right to use an alternate medicine to aid in the treatment of my glaucoma.”

Knox says her doctor would prefer she not use marijuana.

Amending the voter-approved medical marijuana would require super-majorities in the House and the Senate.

3:52

A state Senate committee has voted to strip glaucoma from the list of conditions that qualify a patient for a medical marijuana card. The state Senate could vote on the amendment to the voter-approved medical marijuana law later this week.

More details to come soon.

Politics
3:51 pm
Tue March 20, 2012

Michigan Supreme Court to weigh in on Oakland County redistricting controversy

The Michigan Supreme Court hears arguments tomorrow over a state law allowing Republicans to draw county commission boundaries in Oakland County.  

Just released emails seem to show Oakland County Republicans tried to circumvent the rules to maintain control of the county commission.

“Clearly there has been a collusionary attempt on the part of the Republican legislators in this body from Oakland County," says Vicki Barnett, a Democratic state lawmaker from Farmington Hills. 

Barnett says it’s a “major breach of trust in the government system”. 

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Commentary
11:29 am
Tue March 20, 2012

Lacking Integrity in State Government

First, the bad news: A State Integrity Commission yesterday released a new study of ethics and integrity in state governments across the United States. To quote the New York Times, it found:

“Most states shy away from public scrutiny, fail to enact or enforce ethics laws, and allow corporations and the wealthy a dominant voice in elections and policy decisions.”

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