Politics & Government

Politics
7:34 pm
Mon April 2, 2012

A new effort organizes to recall Michigan Gov. Snyder

Organizers of the new effort to recall Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder say they're drawing inspiration from Wisconsin's recall effort.
Michigan Rising YouTube

UPDATE 7:35pm

 

Governor Snyder’s critics are once again launching a recall petition against him.

The petition drive organizers accuse the governor’s education and spending policies of “abusing children” and hurting Michigan in other ways during his time in office.

Geralyn Lasher is the governor’s spokeswoman.    She says voters know the governor can point to an improving economy during his time in office.

“I think they’re going to be far more focused on that than they will with the latest fringe group that comes up with a proposal," says Lasher.

The first recall petition drive against the governor fell well short of the 800 thousand signatures needed to put the recall on the ballot.  

 

ORIGINAL POST 5:59pm

A new recall effort against Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is getting underway.

The group "Michigan Rising" said in a press release today they filed their petition language in Washtenaw County on March 26. They expect a hearing on whether or not the petition language will be accepted on April 9.

The last effort to recall Gov. Snyder failed to collect enough signatures to put the question on a ballot.

Past recall efforts against former Governors Jennifer Granholm and John Engler also failed.

MPRN's Rick Pluta reported "there's never been a successful recall campaign against a statewide elected official" in the state's history.

To put a recall question on the November ballot, 1 in 7 registered voters in Michigan would have to sign a petition. Organizers would need around 807,000 valid signatures in a three-month period.

It's a task Michigan Radio commentator Jack Lessenberry called "impossible" last year.

Impossible or not, Michigan Rising plans to hold a rally on May 5 at the Capitol in Lansing to kickoff their campaign.

Organizers in Michigan say they are buoyed by the success of the effort in Wisconsin to hold a special recall election against Gov. Scott Walker.

In their press release, Michigan Rising said recalling Gov. Snyder is akin to "slaying a dragon."

"We are trying to recall Governor Snyder again because you must chop the head off the beast and slay the dragon before you start rebuilding the village. If you try to rebuild the village while the dragon is still around, he will just burn the village to the ground again," said Marty
Townsend, Michigan Rising's Public Chair.

Politics
5:20 pm
Mon April 2, 2012

Judge rules against state House Republicans in dispute over "immediate effect"

 A judge has issued a temporary injunction blocking a legislative maneuver that state House Republicans have been using this year.

The state House has passed more than 500 bills this year with a provision that the bills take effect as soon as the governor signs them.    State House Democrats sued, claiming the Republican leadership ignored their requests for votes to delay implementation of the bills.

Attorney Michael Hodge represents the House Democrats.  He says the House Republican leadership has been shutting out the minority party.

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Immigration
3:06 pm
Mon April 2, 2012

67 arrested in Michigan after nationwide immigration sweep

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents making arrest in Dearborn.
U.S. ICE

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents have arrested 3,168 people for "egregious immigration law" violations as part of a six-day enforcement operation.

The Detroit Free Press reports 67 were arrested in Michigan:

  • 21 in metro Detroit,
  • 19 in the Grand Rapids area,
  • and 27 others around the state.

From the Freep:

According to ICE, the Michigan arrestees were primarily men from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Cuba, Iraq, El Salvador, Bosnia-Herzegovinian, Cuba, Ghana, the U.K., Haiti and Lebanon.

ICE Director John Morton said in a press release:

"The results of this targeted enforcement operation underscore ICE's ongoing commitment and focus on the arrest and removal of convicted criminal aliens and those that game our nation's immigration system. Because of the tireless efforts and teamwork of ICE officers and agents in tracking down criminal aliens and fugitives, there are 3,168 fewer criminal aliens and egregious immigration law violators in our neighborhoods across the country."

U.S. ICE officials released this video of arrests made in metro Detroit:

Politics
12:45 pm
Mon April 2, 2012

Detroit Mayor Bing released from hospital

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing.
Kate Davidson Changing Gears

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing has been released from the hospital. Bing was first hospitalized more than a week ago, after experiencing "discomfort" after a dental appointment.

"The Mayor will recuperate at home from surgery to correct a perforated colon and is expected to be out of the office for approximately three weeks," said Bing's press secretary, Naomi Patton, in a written statement.

The Mayor continues to interact daily with his office and is engaged with ongoing City operations."

In the meantime, Bing's designee in his absence, Deputy Mayor Kirk Lewis, told City Council that the Mayor's office supports the latest draft of a proposed consent agreement from the state.

"It's ready for consideration," Lewis said this morning, adding that "It's time for a thumbs up, thumbs down" vote.

A spokeswoman for Governor Snyder says he wants a deal done as soon as possible, and says the Governor considers this Thursday a hard deadline to reach an agreement.

Changing Gears
11:16 am
Mon April 2, 2012

Spring has sprung; 99% spring events are coming

Valerie O'Rourkefrom the 99% Spring Blog from the 99% Spring Blog

Earlier this year, we told you about The 99% Spring, the protest movement sponsored by a variety of political and labor groups including MoveOn.org, the United Auto Workers and the Teamsters Union.

It’s part of a fresh wave of protests that are taking place across the country, in the wake of the Occupy movement.

Starting next week, 99% Spring events will be kicking off across the United States, and especially in the Midwest.

Supporters are vowing to train 100,000 people to “to tell the story of what happened to our economy, learn the history of non-violent direct action, and use that knowledge to take action on our own campaigns to win change.”

Over the weekend, the UAW sent an email to its members, encouraging them to take part.

“We are at a crucial point in America where if we continue to ignore the opportunity to rebuild this great country, then we risk losing the very essence of what has made this country great,” the email said. 

Some 918 events have been scheduled thus far. MoveOn.org, which is associated with the Democratic Party, has a locator for events, where you can put in your zip code and find those closest to you.

Here are the ones for the Detroit area, Chicago and Milwaukee, and Cleveland. To be sure, the 99% Spring movement hasn’t said what will happen once people are trained, but given the training events, it’s pretty clear it will meet its goal of training 100,000 people.

Are you planning to take part in 99% Spring? Let us know where and when.

Commentary
11:16 am
Mon April 2, 2012

Commentary: Joe Schwarz, former Republican now Democrat?

Back in the 1990s, if you were in the legislature and wanted to know about higher education in Michigan, you went to see State Senator Joe Schwarz, who understood it best of all.

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Politics
11:06 am
Mon April 2, 2012

After offering concessions, Detroit unions won't get a vote

wikimedia commons

Update 11:06 a.m.

In addition to threatening to strike, AFSCME officials say they will also file a federal lawsuit to try and compel Detroit City Council to take a vote on the tentative agreements the unions bargained for.

Unions are also in federal court seeking a restraining order. They're trying to prevent the Detroit City Council from signing off on a consent agreement.

10:49 a.m.

Time is running out for Detroit and state officials to reach an agreement to stave off an emergency manager.

This morning, Deputy Mayor Kirk Lewis confirmed he won’t ask the City Council to approve new labor contracts for city workers.

That infuriates union leaders, who gave up historic concessions in an effort to save money and avoid an emergency manager.

Al Garrett, President of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees in Detroit, said this is about breaking unions, not Detroit’s fiscal crisis.

"People don’t have to come to work if in fact their rights are being abridged," said Garrett. "It is not unusual for strikes in the city of Detroit, and I’m pretty sure that they may be met with some stiff opposition with regards to taking away rights that folks have had for years."

Gov. Snyder has said those concessions don’t go far enough. Under a proposed consent agreement, city officials would have broad powers to skip collective bargaining and impose union contracts.

Politics
10:24 am
Mon April 2, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines...

Morning News Roundup, Friday, March 30th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Deadline coming for Detroit

Detroit City Council is meeting today to mull over potential changes to a "financial stability agreement" with the state. Gov. Rick Snyder has said this Thursday is his deadline to decide whether or not to appoint an emergency manager for the city, but some think there might be some wiggle room. From the Detroit Free Press:

On Friday, Snyder's chief of staff Dennis Muchmore said on "Off the Record" on public TV's WKAR that "there's a little bit of flexibility that's built into the law" establishing the emergency manager process, and April 13 becomes "another target date" because of an appeal period. But in a comment that received less attention, Muchmore also said that Thursday is "a hard and fast deadline" for Snyder to decide on an emergency manager.

Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek reported last Friday that another court hearing on the legality of the state's consent agreement process could further muddle the process. A court hearing is set for April 9th, after Gov. Snyder's April 5th deadline.

Dow to lay off 900 workers

Dow Chemical Co. is set to lay off around 900 people in response to weak demand for its products in Europe.

The Associated Press reports the chemical manufacturer said today the positions will be cut as part of a plan to trim about $250 million in annual costs. They said they will shut down factories in Illinois, Portugal, Hungary, and Brazil, and it will idle a plant in The Netherlands.

Dow Chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris said the company made the decision to adapt to a volatile economy, especially in western Europe.

Dow says it will book a first-quarter charge of $350 million in the first quarter for severance packages, asset impairments and other items related to its cost-cutting plan.

Shares rose 3 cents to $34.67 in morning trading.

Gas prices rising

Gas prices rose about 7 cents during the past week, according to AAA Michigan. Prices are at a statewide average above $4 per gallon for the first time since last June.

From the AP:

The auto club says Monday the average of $4.04 is about 37 cents per gallon higher than last year at this time.

Of the cities it surveys, AAA Michigan says the cheapest price for self-serve unleaded fuel is in the Flint area, where it's $3.95 a gallon. The highest average is in the Ann Arbor and Marquette areas at $4.07.

AAA says Michigan's all-time high was $4.26.

Politics
3:33 pm
Sat March 31, 2012

Detroit International Bridge Company appeals judge's Gateway Project ruling

Jim Wallace flickr.com

The Detroit International Bridge Company is challenging a court ruling that removes its control over a key construction project.

Earlier this month, a judge ordered the Michigan Department of Transportation to completely take over the Gateway Project.

The project is intended to better connect the Ambassador Bridge and nearby highways.

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Politics
3:18 pm
Sat March 31, 2012

3 unpaid parking tickets could stop drivers

Flickr user alicegop

Here's another reason to pay your parking tickets: Your driver's license could be blocked.

A Michigan law kicking in on May 16 says three unpaid parking tickets can prevent renewal of a license. The current threshold is six.

Local governments notify the secretary of state when someone has too many unpaid parking tickets, although some communities are more aggressive than others. Birmingham in suburban Detroit turns unpaid tickets over to a collection agency.

Politics
12:31 pm
Sat March 31, 2012

Michigan's Democratic lawmakers cry foul over how Republicans are counting their votes

Matthileo Flickr

This week Rick Pluta, Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network, and I took a look at the hullabaloo over vote counting at the state Capital.

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Politics
12:18 pm
Sat March 31, 2012

Michigan Supreme Court to rule on suspects' silence issue

The Michigan Hall of Justice, home to Michigan's Supreme Court.
michiganradio.org

The state Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether police officers in Michigan must end the conversation once a suspect asserts the right to remain silent.

Kadeem Dennis White was brought in for questioning after a man was gunned down in what appeared to be a robbery attempt. White said he wanted to remain silent and the detective stopped asking questions -- but he did not stop talking to White.

Eventually, White responded to the detective's statements, saying he didn't mean to do it and it was an accident. White was charged with first-degree murder.

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Politics
8:33 pm
Fri March 30, 2012

Detroit union coalition wins a day in court; another legal hurdle for consent agreement?

A coalition of Detroit city unions has won a hearing in Ingham County Circuit Court.

The unions want a proposed consent agreement between Detroit and the state thrown out because of alleged Open Meetings Act violations.

They say state and city leaders inappropriately met on 44 separate occasions to draft the proposed consent agreement now being considered by the Detroit City Council.

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emergency manager
7:21 pm
Fri March 30, 2012

End of Benton Harbor's financial emergency murky at best

City Commissioner Marcus Muhammad outlines his problems with Benton Harbor's emergency manager for a state treasury official Thursday.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

In December Benton Harbor’s emergency manager said the city’s finances we’re looking good enough that he could probably leave sometime this year. But now, he’s not so sure.

The City of Benton Harbor was, for practical purposes, bankrupt. In 2010 former governor Jennifer Granholm appointed an emergency financial manger to clean up the books and prevent damage to state’s credit.

Thursday night, Michigan Deputy Treasurer Roger Fraser visited the city. State Treasurer Andy Dillion was supposed to be at the town hall meeting. But he’s in Detroit, trying to help the city avoid an emergency manager like Benton Harbor has.

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Politics
2:42 pm
Fri March 30, 2012

Michigan's autism bill, questions about coverage and funding

Dru Bloomfield Flickr

Yesterday, the Michigan Legislature passed a series of autism coverage bills that will go to Governor Snyder.

It was one of the first significant pieces of legislation to move through the legislature with broad bi-partisan support.

The bill requires insurance companies to pay for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis and treatment for children up to age 18.

Under the bill, insurance companies regulated by the state will have to cover expenses for ASD therapy and diagnosis...

  • of up to $50,000 a year for kids younger than 7,
  • $40,000 a year for kids ages 7-13,
  • and $30,000 for kids up to age 18.

Questions about funding

The law will go into effect on October 1, but some questions have been raised about part of the funding for the mandated coverage.

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Commentary
11:59 am
Fri March 30, 2012

Commentary: Detroit - What Happens Next?

You may think I am pessimistic, but I have deep doubts about whether the governor’s proposal to save Detroit from an emergency manager will work. There are two main problems.

First, it isn’t clear that those supporting it can muster five votes on the nine-member council to approve it. Second, I am not sure it will work even if it is ratified. The structure is too complex.

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Politics
11:10 am
Fri March 30, 2012

Top Snyder aide: More needed from Detroit unions

State and city leaders have been working to avoid an emergency manager appointment in Detroit, but so far, no deal has been reached.
user jodelli Flickr

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder's chief of staff says more concessions will be needed from Detroit unions before a financial oversight deal can be worked out with city leaders, but he adds "we're moving strongly forward" toward agreement.

Dennis Muchmore said during Friday's taping of public television's "Off the Record" program that he thinks five of nine city council members ultimately will approve a deal between the state and the city. At the moment only three have publicly expressed support.

If an agreement isn't reached by next Thursday, Snyder will have to decide whether to appoint an emergency manager with sweeping powers to run Detroit. Muchmore says an appeal period starts then, so the absolute deadline on a decision isn't until April 13.

Council members are expected to vote early next week.

News Roundup
8:31 am
Fri March 30, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news...

Morning News Roundup, Friday, March 30th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Negotiations Continue in Detroit

The Detroit City Council vetted a proposed state deal to fend off insolvency yesterday. "The deal is formally called a “financial stability agreement.” The city and state have been trying to negotiate a deal for two weeks now. But after yesterday’s meeting, it’s clear the two sides are still a long way apart. The Council is expected to take up the issue again on Monday. The city and the state have until April 5th to reach some kind of deal, or Governor Snyder could choose to appoint an emergency manager," Sarah Cwiek reports. Detroit is facing a $200 million budget deficit and could run out of money by the end of May.

Autism Treatments

The state Legislature has sent Governor Snyder a package of bills that would require health insurance plans to offer coverage for childhood autism treatments. Rick Pluta reports:

Governor Snyder called for the autism mandate in his State of the State address. Lt. Gov. Brian Calley has a daughter with autism. He says the case can be made for extending the mandate to other mental health disorders, but autism was a good place to start. Calley says the requirement will save taxpayers money because more children with autism will grow to live independently instead of requiring government assistance. But on the same day, the Legislature sent him the bills, a state Senate committee eliminated funding in his Medicaid budget for treating autism.

MI Economic Recovery

Things looked bleak in Michigan in January 2009, when the state’s economic activity index fell to 60 points. But, as Rina Miller reports, in January of this year it was up to 98 points. “The index looks at payrolls, exports, sales tax revenues, unemployment claims and other factors. ‘We're starting to see some sustainable progress in coming out of the depths of the recession,’ Robert Dye, chief economist with Comerica Bank, explains. ‘And in January, we really see evidence of this resurgence of the auto industry permeating into other parts of the economy,’” Miller reports.

Politics
12:09 am
Fri March 30, 2012

New state offer gets skeptical reception from Detroit City Council

The Detroit City Council vetted a proposed state deal to fend off insolvency on Thursday.

The deal is formally called a “financial stability agreement.”

But it's clearly a legally enforceable consent agreement under Michigan’s emergency manager law, Public Act 4.

Read more
Politics
5:43 pm
Thu March 29, 2012

Motorcycle helmet repeal puts spotlight on Gov. Snyder

Advocates of the helmet law repeal say it's about individual freedom, but it comes with costs.
Varin Tsai Flickr

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is facing a big decision.

It's one of the more sharply political decisions he's faced since he became Governor.

Does he follow his own party, the Republican-led legislature, and sign off on their motorcycle helmet repeal bill?

Or does he go against them with a veto?

For a Governor that fancies himself a "numbers guy," he's got to know the numbers are stacked against him.

Read more

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