Politics & Government

Weekly Political Roundup
5:31 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Detroit bankruptcy case, bondholders and the future of the DIA

It’s Thursday, the day we talk Michigan politics with Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics.

This week, host Jennifer White discusses the latest developments in the Detroit bankruptcy case and examines the implications.

There was a significant breakthrough yesterday. A settlement was announced between the city of Detroit and three major bond insurers. The insurers will get about 74 cents on the dollar, a significant increase from what emergency manager Kevyn Orr originally offered, and the roughly $50 million in savings will go to support retirees.

The question now is whether retirees will accept further cuts to their pensions, given the fact that Gov. Rick Snyder has stated that the state will not put any money forward unless the retirees agree to cuts. Ken Sikkema says it's imperative that retirees back the plan.

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Stateside
5:13 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

The latest developments between the DIA, Detroit pensioners, and creditors

Credit JSFauxtaugraphy/Flickr

There have been two big developments this week in the high-stakes showdown over Detroit's pensioners, its art treasures and creditors who hope bankruptcy judge Steven Rhodes will pressure the city to put those art treasures on the table.

There's a lot to try to sort out. So, as we do each Thursday, we spoke to Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes.

Listen to the full interview above.

Stateside
5:12 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

What can other communities learn from the financial emergency in Royal Oak Township?

Credit Michigan State University

The latest Michigan community to fall into financial collapse is the tiny half-square mile community of Royal Oak Township, in Oakland County.

Late last month, Gov. Rick Snyder confirmed a financial emergency existed in Royal Oak Township. That cleared the way for action under Michigan's overhauled emergency manager act, PA 436.

What's happened in Royal Oak Township illustrates the changes and options available under PA 436 after voters rejected the previous emergency manager law in November 2012. We wondered if other communities can learn cautionary lessons from the financial troubles of Royal Oak Township.

Eric Scorsone, municipal finance expert from Michigan State University, joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Politics & Culture
5:10 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Stateside for Thursday, April 10, 2014

The average gas mileage of new vehicles sold in the U.S. has steadily been improving, and greenhouse gas emissions are at an all-time low. The Environmental Protection Agency also recently set new emissions standards, scheduled to be phased in between 2017 and 2025, that will reduce the amount of sulfur found in gasoline.

But is the slow and steady climb in fuel economy and emissions enough? On today’s show, we ask if the Obama administration's 2016 and 2025 fuel efficiency goals setting the bar too low?

Then, a new documentary film brings us the story of the Great Lakes as seen through its ice.

And, last month, Gov. Snyder confirmed a financial emergency existed in Royal Oak Township. Can other communities learn from Royal Oak’s situation?

Also, the Share Art Project is a collaborative effort among artists at the Buckham Gallery, students and the Genesee Valley Regional Center. We spoke to a Buckham board member about the program and an upcoming exhibit.

First on the show, there have been two big developments this week in the high-stakes showdown over Detroit's pensioners, its art treasures and creditors, who hope bankruptcy judge Steven Rhodes will pressure the city to put those art treasures on the table.

There's a lot to try to sort out. So, as we do each Thursday, we spoke to Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes.

Politics & Government
9:20 am
Thu April 10, 2014

Group says Michigan business owners oppose 'Ban the Box' bill

Critics say many employers won’t give prospective job applicants a chance if they see they have been convicted of a crime on a job application.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A new poll shows Michigan business owners strongly oppose legislation to prevent them from including a question about criminal convictions on job applications.

88% of Michigan business owners polled by the National Federation of Independent Business say they oppose the ‘Ban the Box’ bill.

Charlie Owens is the NFIB state director. He says it doesn’t make sense to wait until a job offer is made before being able to do a criminal background check.

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Politics & Government
6:00 am
Thu April 10, 2014

Bond insurer ups the ante in battle over the Detroit Institute of Arts

One group who stands to lose a lot in Detroit’s bankruptcy has upped the ante in the battle over the Detroit Institute of Arts.

The Financial Guaranty Insurance Corporation, a major bond insurer, has gone out and solicited bids for the museum’s assets.

And in papers filed in federal bankruptcy court Wednesday, FGIC said it’s received four tentative bids for the museum’s assets, or portions of them.

The bidders include:

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Stateside
6:02 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

"The Joe's" days as the home of the Detroit Red Wings are numbered

For the past 35 years, "Hockeytown" in Detroit has meant the on Detroit's Riverfront.  But " The Joe's" days as the home of the Detroit Red Wings are numbered.

The Wings are headed north to the Cass Corridor area between downtown at Midtown.

A new $450-million, 18,000 seat arena is on the way for Wings owner Mike Ilitch,  perhaps as early as the 2016-2017 season.

And what's drawing fire from critics like my next guest is the fact that the stadium deal has the public covering nearly 60% of the sticker price the Ilitches will get all the revenues from the new stadium, and the whole deal was unveiled publicly the week after Detroit declared bankruptcy.

Bill Bradley is a columnist at Next City, where he covers economic development in cities. He dug into the new Wings arena in a piece for nextcity.org. It's title? "Red Wings Stadium Upset! Why Taxpayers are Losing--Again--in Detroit."

Politics & Government
5:51 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

Feds approve center to encourage immigrant investment in Michigan

Michigan's new immigration center will provide visas for people who invest at least $1 million in the state and create at least ten jobs.
Credit lcars / Flickr

Michigan will be only the second state in the country to run a statewide center meant to encourage investment from immigrants.

The center will provide visas for people who invest at least $1 million in the state and create at least ten jobs. The required investment goes down to $500,000 if it is made in a rural community or one with high unemployment.

This is one piece of Gov. Rick Snyder’s strategy to attract more immigrants to Michigan. His administration expects the center to bring in at least $30 million and create 600 new jobs every year.

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Stateside
5:50 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

Stateside for Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Stateside for Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A new $450-million hockey arena is on the way for the Red Wings in Detroit. Sixty percent of it is being paid for by taxpayers.

Will that investment from the city pay off? And what lessons can we learn from other similar deals around the nation?

And we talk about diversity on college campuses. Are mixed-race students counted?

Also, raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour, and closing the pay gap between men and women; those are key parts of the 2014 midterm election campaign for Democrats.

Politics & Government
12:51 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

Detroit starts posting legal notices in new fight vs. blight

Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The city of Detroit has started posting legal notices on 79 abandoned homes in one city neighborhood, warning homeowners to clean up the property--or risk a lawsuit, and the city seizing the home.

The effort in the west side neighborhood near Marygrove College was announced Wednesday afternoon by Mayor Mike Duggan, in what he called a "bold experiment" to fight blight.

It will work like this: once a notice is posted, homeowners have 72 hours to contact the city and arrange to sign a consent agreement. It will stipulate that the homeowner clean up the property, and move someone into the house within 60 days.

If that doesn't happen, the city can sue to have the Detroit Land Bank Authority seize the house. The Land Bank will then re-sell properties it deems "salvageable" at auction.

“When you leave your house abandoned, it is a nuisance to the neighborhood," Duggan said. "And you cannot legally leave your property in a way that’s a nuisance.

"I'm going to give every single person when we sue them the choice—either sign the court order to get it fixed up and occupied, or we’re going to take title.”

Duggan said it will be "fascinating" to see how the program plays out in the Marygrove neighborhood effort plays out over the next 90 days--but that plans are already in the works to expand it to other neighborhoods.

Duggan said represents a shift away from the "mindless demolition" approach to blight eradication--though many homes that are simply unsalvageable will have to be demolished. “If we take down the houses that can’t be saved, and we sell what’s left…I think people will value that," Duggan said.

Lola Holton, a 39-year resident of the neighborhood, said she's ready to see "results."

"I'm very, very excited about having community back," Holton said. "That's what we need. We've lost that. 

"Not only the restoration and taking boards down, but putting families in these houses. To build community."

 

Politics & Government
10:28 am
Wed April 9, 2014

The week in Michigan politics

Credit NOAA

This Week in Michigan Politics, Emily Fox and Jack Lessenberry discuss the state of education in Michigan, an update on the Detroit bankruptcy and the race to fill four seats from Michigan's congressional delegation.

Week in Michigan Politics interview for 4/9/14

Stateside
8:14 am
Wed April 9, 2014

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow talks minimum wage and the gender pay gap

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow
Credit USDAgov / Flickr

Sen. Stabenow talks about the gender pay gap.

Raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour, and closing the pay gap between men and women; those are key parts of the 2014 midterm election campaign for Democrats.

Michigan has one of the biggest gender-based pay gaps in the nation. That's according to a new report by the National Partnership for Women and Families. 

The study says women who work full-time in Michigan earn 74 cents for every dollar men make. While some say the gap isn't that big, it's clear that women are often paid less than men.  We spoke with U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, who co-sponsored a bill that sought to address the gender pay gap. The U.S. Senate voted down that bill after our interview with Stabenow. Listen to the full interview above.

Stateside
7:59 am
Wed April 9, 2014

How Michigan stacks up when it comes to elections

Credit Flickr

How is Michigan doing on the elections front? Click on the link to listen.

The Pew Charitable Trusts' latest Elections Performance Index looked at all 50 states and the District of Columbia to measure how well they conducted their elections. Wait times at polling stations, problems with registration or absentee ballots, and voter turnout were just some of the things examined.

So how did Michigan do? We talked to Sean Greene, research manager for The Pew Charitable Trusts, to find out.

Listen to the full interview above.

Politics & Government
6:16 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

Mullins throws hat into race for John Dingell's congressional seat

Raymond G. Mullins
Credit Courtesy Raymond G. Mullins

A long-time Washtenaw County attorney plans to run in the Democratic primary for Michigan's 12th Congressional District seat.

Raymond G. Mullins is challenging Debbie Dingell in the race to succeed her husband, U.S. Representative John Dingell.

Mullins says his biggest concerns are fighting poverty, income inequality, and improving public education at all levels.

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Stateside
4:10 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

Unmarried women voters may be crucial in the upcoming fall elections

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

As Michigan's August 5 primary and November election draw closer, there are some very tight races shaping up.

The Cook Political Report says four congressional Republicans are in tight races. Representatives Dan Benishek in the 1st, Tim Walberg in the 7th, Justin Amash in the 3rd and Kerry Bentivolio on the 11th districts are in very competitive races. Add to that the race to fill Democrat Carl Levin's Senate seat and the race for governor. All of these, according to Cook, are among the most competitive races in the country.

So who are the voters who could most influence the outcome of these races, depending upon whether they stay home or go to the polls?

For the answer we turned to Page Gardner, president of the non-profit and nonpartisan Voter Participation Center. She joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Politics & Culture
4:10 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

Stateside for Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A former Republican state representative says he was on the "wrong side of history" when he opposed same-sex marriage during his time in Lansing 10 years ago. On today's show, Chris Ward, former representative from Genoa County talked about the gay marriage ban and the future of the Republican Party.

Then, we spoke with a very talented Flint rapper about his music and raising the profile of the Flint community.

We heard from writer Deidre Stevens about the Ca-Choo Club, a very unique way to attract allergy sufferers to Sault Ste. Marie.

Also, as Michigan's Aug. 5 primary and November election draw closer, there are some very tight races shaping up. Who are the voters who could most influence the outcome of these races, depending upon whether they stay home or go to the polls?

First on the show, yesterday was the deadline to file objections to the disclosure statement spelling out Detroit's plan to climb out of its bankruptcy hole.

And yes, objections poured in – long lists of objections to the disclosure statement.

Detroit News reporter Chad Livengood joined us today to tell us who's objecting, why, and what comes next.

Stateside
3:50 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

Who objected to Detroit's disclosure statement?

Yesterday was the deadline to file objections to the disclosure statement spelling out Detroit's plan to climb out of its bankruptcy hole.

And yes, objections poured in – long lists of objections to the disclosure statement.

Detroit News reporter Chad Livengood joined us today to tell us who's objecting, why, and what comes next.

Listen to the full interview above.

Stateside
2:37 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

Former Republican state representative says he was wrong to oppose same-sex marriage

Chris Ward in a photo for a 2008 cover story in Dome Magazine.
Credit Dave Trumpie - trumpiephotography.com / Dome Magazine

Former Michigan State Rep. Chris Ward talks about why he regrets his vote on same-sex marriage.

It is never too late to offer a public "mea culpa" for taking a political action that you later believe was a serious mistake.

That's the idea behind a recent entry on the blog Republicus.

Former Republican State Rep. Chris Ward wrote the post declaring that he'd been on the "wrong side of history" when he opposed same-sex marriage during his time in Lansing.

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Politics & Government
5:56 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

Report: Unmarried women could be critical voting bloc this fall in Michigan

According to a new report, about 500,000 Michiganders who voted in 2012 could stay home on Election Day this year. More than half of them are unmarried women.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A new report suggests unmarried women may be a critical swing vote in Michigan’s elections this fall.

The Voter Participation Center works to get more unmarried women, people of color, and young people to vote. But those groups tend to show the biggest voting dropoff in off-year elections.

Those also happen to be the voters Democrats need  to win in this fall’s gubernatorial and congressional elections.

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Politics & Government
5:53 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

Flint denied federal grant to pay for firefighters

This grant was intended to fund 39 positions in the Flint fire department. The city may be able to use money from a recently passed public safety millage to offset some of the lost grant funding.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Flint will not be getting a major federal grant that would have paid to keep many city firefighters on the job.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has turned down Flint’s request for a nearly $8 million SAFER grant. The city has used two previous SAFER grants to pay dozens of firefighters.

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