Politics & Government

Election 2012
7:56 am
Wed August 3, 2011

Gary Glenn will seek Senate seat

The Michigan president of the American Family Association says he's running for the Republican nomination
in the race to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow.

Gary Glenn issued a statement Tuesday saying that federal election law requires him to file a formal declaration of candidacy this week.

In the statement, Glenn praises U.S. Rep. Justin Amash of Cascade Township, the only Republican in Michigan's congressional delegation to vote against the debt ceiling bill that President Barack Obama signed Tuesday. Stabenow voted for the bill.

Tuesday also saw another prominent Republican say he won't join the U.S. Senate field. Ypsilanti cardiologist Rob Steele says his work is too demanding for a statewide race.

Ex-U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra recently declared his candidacy for the Republican Senate nomination.

Politics
1:10 am
Wed August 3, 2011

Troy votes to keep library open

Teens at the Troy public library
user troylib flickr.com

Residents of one suburban Detroit community have resolved a nearly two-year-long battle over its library  - in the library’s favor.

Voters in the affluent community of Troy had twice rejected funding measures for the library. It had been slated to close earlier this year.

But now more than 58% of Troy voters have approved a five-year millage hike that will generate more than $3 million for the library.

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Politics
12:59 am
Wed August 3, 2011

Incumbent mayor clear winner in Warren primary

Warren Mayor James Fouts cruised to any easy primary victory Tuesday night.

The five-person primary in Michigan’s third-largest city got downright nasty at times. Candidates lobbed personal attacks, and there was a strange battle over whether Fouts had to reveal his age.

In the end though, Fouts was the clear winner, garnering more than 70% of the vote.

Fouts says he’s fought blight, demolishing about 600 dangerous homes. He also reorganized the city’s police department, and brought back EMS services.

He says the vote shows Warren is happy with his efforts.

“I think hard work, and effort, and recognizing the taxpayers are your boss, has allowed this success to take place.”

Fouts and City Councilwoman Kathy Vogt, a longtime political opponent, will face off in the November general election.

Despite finishing a distant second, Vogt says she’ll continue to hammer on what she calls Fouts’ lack of fiscal discipline.

“There are places where costs can be cut. And that’s what we’ve got to do. There’s got to be drastic cuts at this point. And the people at the top cannot continue to take top dollar all the time.”

Fouts calls Vogt’s assertions of fiscal irresponsibility “preposterous.” He says Warren has more money in its general fund than any other city in the state.

Politics
11:22 pm
Tue August 2, 2011

Walling, Buchanan to face off in Flint's mayoral election in November

Incumbent Flint mayor Dayne Walling celebrates with his supporters Tuesday night
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Flint Mayor Dayne Walling easily finished first in Tuesday’s mayoral primary.   But the race for the second spot on the November general election ballot was extremely close.   

Dayne Walling says Tuesday’s primary vote shows Flint residents understand the challenges he’s struggled against during the past two years.   The city’s murder rate has soared. Flint’s budget is strained.   Still, Walling picked up nearly 50% of the votes cast in yesterday’s 7 way primary.  

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Politics
2:45 pm
Tue August 2, 2011

Jesse Jackson meets with statewide Black Caucus

Rev. Jesse Jackson continues his campaign against Gov. Snyder's emergency manager law.
Laura Weber MPRN

Reverend Jesse Jackson is in Michigan this week to continue his campaign against the sweeping emergency manager law.

Jackson wants to expand his Rainbow PUSH Coalition in Michigan to increase action against the politics of Governor Rick Snyder and the Republican-led Legislature.

Jackson says large businesses in Michigan have been allowed for too long to make huge profits while many people have struggled to make ends meet or find a job.

“Michiganders have something to say about restructuring our economy.”

Jackson says there are two issues in Michigan that are most concerning to the state’s economic and political future.

The first is the expansion of the emergency manager law, which he says negates voter rights.

Jackson describes the problem:

“Not a person accountable to the people, or formed by the people, only to the Secretary of Treasury, who then can suspend labor contracts. How Democratic. So that to end democracy and to choose a czar is no solution to an economic crisis.”

The second is a looming decision in the Legislature to place a lifetime cap on welfare benefits at four years. With one procedural action left in the Senate, the measure is expected to go to Governor Snyder for his signature and begin on October first.

Jackson says October first would become a sort of Armageddon Day for Michigan’s most struggling residents.

Commentary
10:11 am
Tue August 2, 2011

Today is Election Day

You may not know this, but today is Election Day in many places in Michigan. There are primary elections for municipal offices in a wide scattering of communities.  In Sharon Township in Washtenaw County, there’s an effort to recall a couple local officials over a bad hiring decision some residents think they made.

And you owe it to yourself to find out what’s on the ballot where you live, and then go to the polls and vote.  Most people who are eligible won’t do that today, so your vote will have more influence than it would in some elections.

Local elections sometimes have more impact on our lives that elections that get more press. And if you live in the Oakland County suburb of Troy, today’s election will have the biggest impact of all.

Last year Troy, a mostly affluent, white-collar suburb, voted to abolish its library. Granted, the ballot proposal was somewhat confusing, but that is what they did. Now, they have one last chance.

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Debt Deal Vote
7:18 am
Tue August 2, 2011

Michigan House members vote 11-4 in favor of debt deal

Michigan's Congressional delegation voted 11-4 in favor of the debt deal.

Michigan’s U.S. Representatives voted 11-4 in favor of the debt deal proposed by House and Senate Congressional leaders. The four no votes came from Democratic Representatives Hansen Clarke, John Conyers, Gary Peters, and Republican Representative Justin Amash.

Statements from Michigan’s congressional delegation in the House came out fast and furious after the vote.

In an address from the House floor, Democratic Congressman John Dingell, who voted in favor of the bill, said:

“…this is not the bill I would have written, and I do not know a single Member of Congress who believes this bill is perfect.  I agreed with President Obama’s sentiments today when he said that ‘as with any compromise, the outcome is far from satisfying.’  However, as a Member of Congress, there are times when you must hold your nose and vote for a compromise that, while imperfect, is necessary.  I believe this is one of those times.  The grave threat of default is far too near and too serious not to vote for this agreement…”

Also voting in favor of the bill was Republican Congressman Fred Upton:

“…This agreement begins to address our nation's long-term debt with firm spending cuts and caps, now and in the future.  I voted for this agreement to ensure that we will not allow the full faith and credit of the United States to be compromised. The agreement will avert a default on the national debt, which would drive up interest rates, create major financial disruptions, and harm the U.S. economy.  Meaningful spending cuts with real tools to enforce them are the reforms we need to finally stop the deficit spending and protect the next generation. Enactment of this agreement will keep our nation from default and protect Michigan families and job creators from untold economic damage.”

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Politics
6:29 am
Tue August 2, 2011

Kilpatrick leaves prison after 14 months

Former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick walks out the front door of a prison administration building. He climbed into a waiting SUV which quickly left the prison grounds.
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has been released from prison, Steve Carmody reports. "Kilpatrick walked out of the prison in Jackson and hugged his lawyer. He then got into a SUV waiting for him and the vehicle drove away," Carmody reports from Jackson.

Kilpatrick served 14 months for violating probation in a 2008 criminal case. From the Associated Press:

The 41-year-old Kilpatrick is free on parole but still faces a federal corruption trial that could send him back to prison. He plans to re-join his family in Texas.

Kilpatrick pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and resigned from office in 2008 after he lied at a civil trial to cover up an extramarital affair with his chief of staff. That lawsuit cost Detroit $8.4 million.

He was imprisoned in May 2010 for failing to disclose assets and surrender sufficient funds that could have reduced his $1 million restitution to Detroit.

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Politics
6:22 am
Tue August 2, 2011

Effort to recall Snyder won't make Nov. ballot

Republican Governor Rick Snyder
Photo courtesy of the Snyder administration

The Committee to recall Rick Snyder says it hasn't collected enough signatures to get a recall on the November ballot. The Associated Press reports:

The group's spokesman Tom Bryant tells The Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press that it has collected more than 300,000 signatures but is short of the more than 800,000 required. Bryant says collection efforts will continue into September, and they'll try to get the issue before voters in February.

The Committee to Recall Rick Snyder opposes Snyder-backed changes including a tougher emergency financial manager law.

Snyder spokeswoman Geralyn Lasher says the governor has made difficult decisions, including spending cuts and lifting tax exemptions on public and private pension income. She says the Republican doing what's needed to "get Michigan back on track."

The Detroit News reports:

The group needs about 807,000 valid signatures and hopes to collect close to 1 million to withstand challenges. Since all signatures must be collected within a 90-day period, the group can build on its July momentum and work toward a Sept. 29 deadline, even if it has to scrap some of the earliest signatures and get those people to sign again, he said...  Wording for the recall petition was approved in late April. No recall effort aimed at a Michigan governor has ever made the ballot.

Politics
7:20 pm
Mon August 1, 2011

Detroit immigrant community denounces ICE investigation

Immigrant advocates in Detroit have denounced an Immigration and Customs Enforcement internal investigation.

They say the agency “whitewashed” an investigation into whether agents improperly targeted a school in southwest Detroit.

Speaking through a translator, Brisa Maldonado recounted how she and her husband were pulled over, and her husband detained, after dropping their children off at Hope of Detroit Academy on March 31st.

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Politics
6:52 pm
Mon August 1, 2011

Snyder announces urban initiative

Governor Snyder says strong cities are the key to Michigan’s future.

The Governor outlined his new Office of Urban and Metropolitan Initiatives in Detroit Monday. The program will have offices in Detroit, Grand Rapids, and the Flint-Saginaw area.

Snyder also appointed Harvey Hollins to head the office. Hollins is currently Wayne State University’s vice president for government and community affairs.

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Politics
4:16 pm
Mon August 1, 2011

Time running out for recall drives against state lawmakers

Recall campaigns against the state’s elected officials have until the end of the week  to hand in petition signatures to be considered for the November ballot. There have been more than two dozen recall campaigns against Republican lawmakers, and just three against Democratic lawmakers. 

Two of those lawmakers – State Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer and state Representative Barb Byrum – are in the clear after an elections panel in Ingham County rejected petitions language against them. 

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Politics
3:23 pm
Mon August 1, 2011

Former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick leaves prison Tuesday

Former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick
Michigan Radio

At 6:30 AM Tuesday, former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick will once again be a free man.  A judge sentenced  Kilpatrick to prison for a probation violation in May, 2010.  

Kwame Kilpatrick was ordered to pay one million dollars in restitution as part of his guilty plea to obstruction of justice charges while he was Detroit mayor.   The same judge later determined that Kilpatrick was hiding his assets to avoid paying the restitution.    He still owes more than 800 thousand dollars in restitution.  

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Politics
3:14 pm
Mon August 1, 2011

State election officials deny request to directly oversee Flint mayoral primary

Flint, Michigan
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The Michigan Secretary of State’s office will not step in to oversee Tuesday’s mayoral primary in Flint.  Two candidates asked the state election office to oversee the primary.   They cited problems in recent elections involving absentee ballots, computer glitches and votes being left in ballot boxes. 

Fred Woodhams is with the Secretary of State’s office.   He says the past problems did not indicate a need for state oversight.  

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Politics
2:32 pm
Mon August 1, 2011

Genesee and Berrien Counties have high recall rates

voting booth
User: silatix Flickr

Genesee and Berrien Counties may each have 2 dozen recall requests on the ballots this fall. Many are at the township level.

Tom Frazier is with the Michigan Townships Association. He says there are lots of reasons for a recall.

"Many recalls happen because somebody is disgruntled from the previous election. Perhaps someone who ran did not win and might start a recall petition against the person who did win."

There are also efforts underway to recall Governor Snyder and many state legislators.  

-Traci Currie - Michigan Radio Newsroom

Commentary
10:47 am
Mon August 1, 2011

Carrying the Bridge North

For some time, I have been baffled by Governor Rick Snyder’s difficulty - make that, inability - to get the legislature to okay construction of a new bridge across the Detroit River.

His Republicans control both the House and the Senate, and last spring they okayed virtually everything the governor wanted, including a politically difficult proposal to tax pensions.

But he’s run into a wall with his proposal for a New International Trade Crossing over the Detroit River.

Now we know part of the reason the governor is getting so much resistance. Matty Moroun, owner of the aging Ambassador Bridge, makes a lot of money by operating what amounts to a trade monopoly. The Moroun family has donated lavishly to the campaigns and causes of many legislators, mostly Republicans. He has also launched a considerable TV advertising campaign running new anti-bridge ads that independent analysts have called misleading, or just plain lies.

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News Roundup
8:51 am
Mon August 1, 2011

In this morning's news...

Morning News Roundup, Monday, August 1st
Brother O'Mara Flickr

States Wary of Debt Deal

President Obama announced last night that leaders of the Democratic and Republican parties in both the House and Senate have come to a deal to avert a default on the national debt. As the Associated Press reports, the deal will likely inflict fiscal pain on states still struggling to recover from the recession:

Although the details of the spending cuts to states remain unclear, lawmakers from both parties have discussed the need to cut or impose caps on so-called discretionary spending over the next decade.

That could mean wide-ranging cuts in federal aid to states, affecting everything from the Head Start school readiness program, Meals on Wheels and worker-training initiatives to funding for transit agencies and education grants that serve disabled children.

There also is concern among governors, state lawmakers and state agency heads that Congress will make deep reductions or changes in federal aid for health services for needy people, most notably through Medicaid. That could shift more of the costs onto states already having trouble balancing their budgets.

Snyder Recall

Organizers of a recall petition against Governor Snyder have until  Friday to collect more than 800,000 signatures to put the issue on the November ballot. “The recall campaign is being led by groups that claim Snyder’s policies are hurting Michiganders. Recall critics accuse the petition drive organizers of just trying to reverse the voters’ decision last year,” Steve Carmody reports. Tom Bryant, the recall campaign spokesman, says petition circulators will be at polling places across the state tomorrow to gather more signatures for the recall petition.

Pontiac Turns Over Police

The Pontiac Police Department is about to close, making way for the Oakland County sheriff to take over law enforcement in the financially challenged southeastern Michigan community, the Associated Press reports. From the AP:

The sheriff's department says the official changeover happened at  11 p.m. Sunday. The city of 58,000 is under the control of state-appointed emergency financial manager Michael Stampfler. He proposed eliminating Pontiac's police force last year. Hiring the sheriff's department to do the job is expected to save about $2 million each year.

Court Rulings
6:18 am
Mon August 1, 2011

MI Supreme Court: Trails are not highways

The justices of the Michigan Supreme Court have made their final rulings of this term. That includes a decision that says Michigan cannot be sued for injuries sustained on state-owned trails for all-terrain vehicles.

A woman sued the Michigan Department of Natural Resources after she flipped her ATV while riding with family and friends on a state-owned trail. The vehicle flipped over half-buried boards sticking out of the ground. The woman hit some trees and injured her back. She argued the state is responsible for maintaining trail safety as it is for maintaining highways. She said the trail fell under the definition of a highway.

But the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that a trail is a trail or a route, and the state is not responsible for safety on the trails as it is for the highways.

The court ruled four-to-three in favor of the state.

Politics
4:01 pm
Sun July 31, 2011

Deadline looming for Recall Snyder petition drive

Recall Snyder petition signature gatherer at 2011 Festival of the Arts June 04, 2011
(flickr stevendepolo)

Time is running out for the organizers of a recall petition against Governor Snyder to collect the signatures they need to put the issue on the November ballot. 

The Recall Snyder petition drive has until this Friday to collect more than 800 thousand signatures, so the voters can decide in November if they want to kick the governor out of office.    Those same voters elected Snyder less than a year ago. 

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Politics
4:00 pm
Sun July 31, 2011

Crime a major issue in Flint's mayoral primary

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Seven candidates will face off on Tuesday in Flint’s mayoral primary.   There are many issues facing the city of Flint:  The need for more economic development, the city’s budget problems.  But the biggest issue appears to be crime.  

Flint set a record last year for the number of homicides.   The violent crime rate has increased, as the number of police officers has declined.    Budget cuts have reduced Flint’s police force significantly in recent years.   

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