Politics & Government

Breaking
1:17 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

Michigan Republicans give Romney 16 delegates, Santorum 14

Update 5:11 p.m. - Santorum camp questions legitimacy of Michigan's Republican Party leadership after delegate flap

The Michigan Republican Party has awarded both of Michigan’s statewide at-large delegates to the Republican national convention this coming summer to Mitt Romney.

The decision by the Michigan Republican Party’s credentials committee was based on Romney’s slim majority of the popular vote in Tuesday’s primary.

But some people are crying foul. They say Rick Santorum’s close runner-up finish entitles him to one of the at-large delegates. And they say the rules were changed at the last minute to benefit Romney.

Matt Frendeway, spokesman for the state Republican Party, says that’s not true.

“Even before Tuesday night’s vote, this is exactly the way we intended to allocate the delegates. There’s no backdoor deals, no smoke-filled rooms, as some people might allege,” said Frendeway.

A spokesman for the Rick Santorum campaign says the decision calls into question the “legitimacy” of the state’s Republican Party leadership.

1:17 p.m.

This just in from Rick Pluta, Michigan Public Radio Network's Lansing Bureau Chief:

The Michigan Republican Party has awarded both the state's at-large national convention delegates to Mitt Romney, despite a close vote in Tuesday's primary.

A spokesman for top rival Rick Santorum says the decision by party leaders calls into questions the "legitimacy" of the Michigan Republican Party.

Former state Attorney General Mike Cox chairs the state GOP credentials committee and is a Romney supporter. But he tells the news service MIRS.dot.com that the committee's decision is "kind of like third world voting." Santorum and Romney evenly split the state's congressional districts -- and the delegates that go with them. That makes the delegate count 16 for Romney and 14 for Santorum.

Late yesterday afternoon it looked as thought the delegates would be evenly split - 15 to 15 - between Romney and Santorum. The official voting totals from Tuesday's presidential primary have not yet been certified by the Secretary of State.

First Amendment
11:20 am
Thu March 1, 2012

City of Dearborn, Michigan pays $100,000 in lawsuit by evangelists

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) - The city of Dearborn has paid $100,000 in legal fees to attorneys for a Christian evangelist whose free-speech rights were violated at a popular Arab-American street festival.

Dearborn has a large Muslim population and one of the nation's biggest concentrations of people with roots in the Arab world. (Photo above of the Islamic Center of America, the largest mosque in the U.S. by Flickr user ruffin_ready.)

City police in 2010 barred George Saieg and his allies from freely walking sidewalks with literature to convert Muslims to Christianity. Chief Ron Haddad says he was just controlling foot traffic, but a federal appeals court says the city violated the First Amendment.

The court says allowing the evangelists on the festival's perimeter wasn't good enough.

As the prevailing party, Saieg was entitled to legal fees and other costs from Dearborn. His lawyers say the money was paid last week.

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Commentary
10:58 am
Thu March 1, 2012

Detroit Crime: Blame the Guns

Earlier this week, while we were paying a lot of attention to the presidential primary race, many of the big shots in Detroit turned out for a baby’s funeral. Delric Waymon Miller died when a gunman riddled his home with bullets from an AK-47.

That was, by the way, the standard assault rifle used by our ancient enemy, the old Soviet Union. The USSR is as dead as a dinosaur, but its weapons are still killing Americans.

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Politics
10:29 am
Thu March 1, 2012

16 percent turnout for Michigan presidential primary

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan election officials say 16 percent of the state's registered voters cast ballots in this week's presidential primary election.

The secretary of state's office said Thursday 1.2 million of the state's nearly 7.3 million registered voters participated.

About 21 percent of the state's registered voters took part in Michigan's 2008 presidential primary, when Republicans had a contested race but Hillary Rodham Clinton was the only major Democratic candidate on the ballot.

Luce County had the highest voter turnout on Tuesday with 27.5 percent of registered voters casting ballots. Baraga County was second with 27.25 percent. Ottawa County came in third with 25.5 percent voting.

Mitt Romney won the popular vote in his home state, but will split Michigan's 30 convention delegates with second-place finisher Rick Santorum.

Politics
10:16 am
Thu March 1, 2012

"Kelsey's Law" would ban teen drivers from talking on cell phone

Young drivers in Michigan already have restrictions while they’re behind the wheel. Now there’s a bill that would allow police to stop teen drivers if they see them talking on a cell phone.

State Sen. Howard Walker says the bill is called “Kelsey’s Law." It's named after a teen who died in 2010 while trying to pass another vehicle.  She was talking on her cell phone at the time.

"Her mother has been a crusader to educate young people and legislators about the concerns of being distracted while you're learning how to drive," Walker says.

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News Roundup
8:37 am
Thu March 1, 2012

In this morning's news...

Emergency Manager Law Gets a Challenge

Opponents are a step closer to a public vote on Michigan’s law that gives state-appointed emergency managers authority over local governments. They filed petitions yesterday that would put a referendum on the law on the state’s November ballot. “State elections officials have 60 days to determine if the ballot drive collected enough valid signatures of registered voters. To succeed, they need more than 161,000 signatures. If the petitions are certified, the law will be suspended until after the election in November. There are five Michigan cities or school districts currently under the control of emergency managers,” Rick Pluta reports.

Concerns over Michigan Nuclear Power Plant

Officials from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission answered questions about safety violations at the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant last night. Lindsey Smith reports:

Officials with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission were trying to ease the community’s concerns after 5 unplanned shutdowns last year (4 we’re reactor shutdowns). During the three hour long meeting regulators detailed safety violations and actions the agency will take this year to further scrutinize the plant. They reassured repeatedly that the plant is operating safely. Entergy officials chose not to attend this meeting hosted voluntarily by the NRC. However, the company must attend a normal, annual meeting with the NRC in South Haven on March 21st.

Winter Weather

A winter storm has left as much as 16 inches of snow in parts of the Upper Peninsula. “The storm that hit Tuesday eased by Wednesday afternoon, but not before leaving more than a foot of snow in parts of northern Michigan. The National Weather Service says 10 to 16 inches fell in the Iron Mountain area, while the Ironwood area got up to 14 inches and the Menominee area up to 13 inches,” the Associated Press reports.

Election 2012
7:10 am
Thu March 1, 2012

Santorum claims partial Michigan victory

Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum’s campaign says it’s wrong to call Mitt Romney’s slim edge in the popular vote in the Michigan primary a victory when they might both wind up with the same number of delegates. The latest count shows Romney and Santorum both winning seven Michigan congressional districts and the delegates that go with them.

“Strategically, we were targeting delegates more than anything else. Based on all those premises, you can only look at Michigan and move it to a tie,” says John Brabender, a senior Santorum campaign official.

The vote tally is still being finalized, but Braybender says Santorum and Romney should both qualify for 15 delegates. Romney has complained that Santorum called on Democrats to vote in the state’s GOP primary.

Politics
6:40 am
Thu March 1, 2012

Inkster might be able to avoid emergency manager

It's looking like the city of Inkster might be able to avoid a state-appointed emergency manager as it works to improve its struggling finances.

A state review team Wednesday voted to accept a consent agreement with the southeastern Michigan city. It should be reflected in a recommendation the review team is expected to soon forward to Governor Rick Snyder regarding the city's financial situation.

A consent agreement would include conditions that city officials must meet, but local officials would remain in charge as long as the conditions are met.

Michigan officials began reviewing Inkster's finances late last year.

Politics
5:28 pm
Wed February 29, 2012

One step closer to public vote on Michigan's emergency manager law

A protest against PA 4 at Governor Snyder's residence in January.
Laura Weber MPRN

Opponents are a step closer to a public vote on Michigan’s law that gives state-appointed emergency managers sweeping authority over local governments faced with a financial crisis. They filed petitions today that would put a referendum on the law on the November ballot.

State elections officials have 60 days to determine if the ballot drive collected enough valid signatures of registered voters. To succeed, they need more than 161 thousand names.

Brandon Jessup is a leader of the drive. He said now the group is gearing up for a fall campaign.

“It’s all voter outreach, definitely. We are going to now begin an education phase to reach out to our broader base and make sure everyone knows about the dangers of this unconstitutional dictator bill,” said Jessup.

Jessup says the law robs local voters of the right to choose their leaders. If the petitions are certified, the law will be suspended until after the election in November.

But state Representative Al Psholka says a stop-gap plan may be needed to ensure stability in takeover communities. 

“If we needed to do something on a temporary basis, I think that would be a good idea not to leave these communities without any protection,” said Psholka. “Because what we’ve found is the taxpayers have not been protected for a number of years. PA 4 didn’t cause all of these deficits and didn’t cause them to be in the condition they’re in.”

Psholka is the sponsor of the emergency manager law.

There are five Michigan cities or school districts currently under the control of emergency managers.

Politics
3:59 pm
Wed February 29, 2012

Lawsuit over pay cuts to Detroit school employees settled

Flickr

DETROIT (AP) - Unions representing about 10,000 Detroit Public Schools employees and the district's state-appointed emergency manager have reached a settlement in a federal lawsuit over pay
cuts and health insurance contributions.

The school district says the settlement was approved Wednesday.

The unions filed the suit last year after Roy Roberts used new powers given emergency managers by state law to impose a 10 percent pay cut and 20 percent contribution to their health insurance.

State Treasury Andy Dillon approved the cuts and also was named in the suit.

Settlement terms include partial payment of accumulated sick days for employees who submit an irrevocable notice of retirement by March 19, a one-time lump sum payment of 2.5 percent of the
employee's 2011/2012 earnings and limited reinstatement of step increases.

Politics
2:56 pm
Wed February 29, 2012

Emergency manager opponents in Michigan aim to suspend law

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A coalition seeking to overturn Michigan's law giving more power to state-appointed emergency managers says it's submitting more than 226,000 voter signatures in hopes of
eventually overturning the law.

The Stand Up for Democracy coalition turned in petitions to state election officials Wednesday.

Roughly 161,300 valid voter signatures are needed to temporarily suspend the law and get it on the November ballot. It could take two months for state officials to verify the signatures.

Critics say the law gives unconstitutional power to state-appointed emergency managers, who have authority to toss out union contracts and strip power from locally elected officials.

Supporters of the law say it's needed to provide the tools to fix financial problems that locally elected leaders have been unable to fix themselves.

Election 2012
1:09 pm
Wed February 29, 2012

Michigan's primary is over, but the delegate count isn't

Did Mitt Romney really "win" Michigan?
Gage Skidmore Flickr

Mitt Romney won the state's popular vote in Michigan's presidential primary last night, which is why many media organizations across the state, and nationally, are reporting a Michigan "win" for Romney.

But the picture on the final delegate count is still not clear.

The unofficial results are not in, but Rick Santorum's campaign held a conference call just a few minutes ago to report that they have unofficial voting data from the state.

A spokesman for Santorum says their numbers show that Santorum and his main rival in yesterday's presidential primary, Romney, will both be awarded one delegate each based on the state's popular vote.

The campaign spokesman went on to say that the latest numbers that they have (again, let's be clear, these have not been certified by the Secretary of State) show that both Santorum and Romney each won 7 congressional districts.

This would mean that each candidate won 14 delegates from those districts (because each congressional district delivers 2 delegates)... plus one delegate each from the popular vote. This, of course, would be a tie: 15 delegates each.

Commentary
11:02 am
Wed February 29, 2012

Romney’s Win

Significantly perhaps, it was Mitt Romney’s old home turf of Oakland County that was most responsible for saving him in the end.

Romney beat Rick Santorum statewide by about 32,000 votes. He won Oakland County, the place where he grew up, by more than 31,000. The other two major metropolitan Detroit counties, Wayne and Macomb, gave him a combined margin of 18,000 more votes.

He lost the rest of the state, but the tri-county area was just more than enough to save him from a defeat that could have destroyed his campaign. Now, Romney is the clear front-runner.

Read more
Primary News Roundup
8:42 am
Wed February 29, 2012

The national media's 3 week love affair with Michigan is over (almost)

Post-primary Morning News Roundup, Wednesday, February 29th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Well, the Michigan primary is over. Mitt Romney eked out a win in the state's popular vote (the delegate count is still being tallied). So, now it's time for the national media to move on to Super Tuesday states. But, it wouldn’t be a true morning-after-election without a little post-primary analysis, right?

  • Politico: Mitt Romney wins Ugly - "Romney could have been summing up his own candidacy when he said in his victory speech here: “We didn’t win by a lot but we won by enough and that’s what counts.”
  • Politico: 5 Takeaways from Arizona and Michigan - "It wasn’t pretty, and [Romney] carried Michigan by a smaller margin than in 2008, but the bottom line is that Romney was in a major political fight Tuesday — and he won... If he had lost Michigan, it’s hard to gauge the level of panic that would have unfolded within GOP ranks."
  • The New York Times: Romney faces stubborn question, despite victories - "[Romney] continues to face questions about whether, should he win the nomination, he will be able to capture the energy of the conservative constituencies that have propelled the party when it has had electoral success in recent years, especially evangelicals and the Tea Party movement."
  • Wall Street Journal: Santorum looks for silver lining - "Santorum must hope that keeping it close in Michigan still will provide a jolt of momentum—not to mention an infusion of cash and volunteers —as he turns his attention to Saturday's caucuses in Washington state and the 10 Super Tuesday contests that loom less than a week away."
  • Marketplace: Post-primary, what Michigan voters are concerned about - "We heard so much about the bailout... What we didn't hear about was the fact that there are still a ton of people in Michigan who owe more on their homes than they're worth... that's going to be a really, really important issue among Michigan voters come November."
  • NPR.org: Santorum left to mourn what could have been in Michigan - "Santorum and his campaign will likely look back on Michigan's 2012 primary not only as a heartbreaking loss in the battle against Mitt Romney but also as a historic lost opportunity."
Politics
12:16 am
Wed February 29, 2012

Emergency manager law opponents, armed with petitions, head to Lansing

Opponents of Michigan’s emergency manager law will descend on Lansing with petitions Wednesday.

The coalition fighting Public Act 4 says they’ve collected more than 218,000 signatures to put the measure up for voter referendum in November.

They need the state to certify about 161,000 of those signatures for that to happen—and for the law to be suspended until the vote.

Read more
Election 2012
11:55 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Election Results: Michigan's Republican Presidential Primary

Romney's campaign is watching results in Novi, Santorum's is in Grand Rapids.
Rick Pluta/Laura Weber MPRN

Mitt Romney has won the popular vote in Michigan.

Precincts Reporting - 96%

  • 41.0%   Mitt Romney - 395,360 votes
  • 37.9%   Rick Santorum- 366,146 votes
  • 11.6%   Ron Paul - 112,232 votes
  • 6.5%      Newt Gingrich - 62,858 votes

As we reported earlier, Michigan's 30 delegates will be awarded by the popular vote (2 delegates), and for winning each of the 14 congressional districts (2 delegates for each district).

As of 11:55 this evening, the Michigan Republican Party is still determining the final delegate count.

10:34 p.m.

NPR has projected that Mitt Romney has won the popular vote in Michigan. The delegates for the 14 congressional districts in Michigan still remain to be tallied.

10:13 p.m.

Rick Santorum has taken the stage in Grand Rapids, saying they've put up a good fight in his opponent's backyard.

"The people of Michigan looked into the hearts of the candidates in Michigan... and all I have to say is, I love you back," said Santorum.

10:05 p.m.

The New York Times reports that "Mitt Romney has received a larger share of the vote than in 2008 in 62 of the 76 Michigan counties to have reported at least some results so far."

A good sign for Mitt Romney.

More from Mark Memmott at NPR.org:

  • From NPR's Don Gonyea: "Santorum crowd's hope for knock-out punch in MI fading as incoming vote totals now trending wrong way for them." (link) 3 minutes ago
  • Here's how the AP is characterizing the race in Michigan: "Mitt Romney ... is pulling ahead of Rick Santorum." 4 minutes ago
Read more
Election 2012
11:49 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Mitt Romney wins popular vote in a close race in Michigan

Mitt Romney address supporters after his victory in Michigan.
Laura Weber MPRN

Mitt Romney pulled out a close victory over Rick Santorum in Michigan tonight. The win gives Romney momentum heading into his next challenge - "Super Tuesday" - when 10 states will hold primaries next Tuesday.

Update 11:49 p.m.

An analyst for the New York Times says Romney's "anti-bailout position" did not hurt him in this race:

Even Mr. Santorum's campaign made a last-minute push to get disgruntled union workers to vote against Mr. Romney for this reason. While primary voters were almost evenly divided on the issue, those who supported the bailout were no more likely to back Mr. Santorum over Mr. Romney.

11:25 p.m.

The Michigan Republican Party is tallying the results for Michigan's congressional districts. There are 30 delegates up for grabs in the state.

Even though Romney won the popular vote, Santorum can still pick up delegates by winning in a district. The delegate distribution will be determined after the Party crunches the numbers.

Read more
Election 2012
11:07 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Voters in Genesee and Oakland Counties fill vacant state house seats

State Representative-elect Joe Graves talks to his supporters after winning Tuesday's special election
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Tuesday’s election did not change the balance of power in the state house. 

Two vacant state house seats were up for grabs.

Voters in Genesee County filled a vacant state house seat on Tuesday.   The seat was made vacant last fall by a union-backed campaign that succeeded in recalling Republican Paul Scott.

Last night, Republican Joe Graves defeated Democrat Steve Losey to serve out the final year of Scott’s unfinished term.     

Graves says his message of jobs lead to the victory.

Read more
Election 2012
10:43 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Santorum speaks to campaign gathering in Grand Rapids

Rick Santorum speaks to his campaign gathering in Grand Rapids.
Rick Pluta MPRN

Rick Santorum gave a speech to his supporters at the Amway Grand Hotel in Grand Rapids.

He said his campaign put up a good fight in his opponent's backyard.

"The people of Michigan looked into the hearts of the candidates in Michigan, and all I have to say is I love them back," said Santorum.

NPR's Don Gonyea characterized the speech as a concession speech even though he didn't formally congratulate his opponent in the speech. Santorum could pick up Michigan delegates depending on how votes in Michigan's 14 congressional districts shake out.

Santorum spent part of the speech talking about energy and how President Obama is keeping a lid on traditional energy exploration in the U.S. to the detriment of the economy.

We'll have more later from MPRN's Rick Pluta.

Election 2012
9:15 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Mitt Romney wins Arizona, Michigan race tight

Mitt Romney.
Matthew Reichbach Flickr

As predicted, Mitt Romney has won the Arizona primary.

From the New York Times:

Mitt Romney has won the Republican presidential primary in Arizona, based on preliminary exit polling, but is locked in a tight battle with Rick Santorum in Michigan, a crucial electoral battleground where Mr. Romney's home-town advantage has all-but evaporated.

Mr. Romney's victory in Arizona will earn him 29 delegates, extending the lead he already enjoys over his rivals. The win comes after his rivals largely conceded that the former Massachusetts governor would win the border state.

The race is Michigan, also as predicted, is neck and neck.

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