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Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

The Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority's public information meeting in Detroit
Virginia Gordan

Construction on the Gordie Howe International Bridge between Detroit and Windsor is expected to begin in the second half of 2018. 

But if you are wondering when you will be able to drive across it, it is still too soon to know.

That's according to Michigan and Canadian public officials who spoke at a public information meeting held in Detroit Wednesday. 

"Although I can't commit today to when the bridge will be open, we will have that information in September of next year," said Heather Grondin, spokesperson for the Windsor -Detroit Bridge Authority.

voting booths
user eyspahn / Flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Detroit’s election re-count carried on through a second day Wednesday.

Election workers are recounting just over 41,000 ballots cast in the November 7th election. That includes all absentee ballots, as well as results from 60 Election Day precincts with “documented issues at the polls.”

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCl0

Since John Conyers resigned Tuesday from his 13th District Congressional seat, which he held for 53 years, the race is shaping up to replace him.

Zach Gorchow, editor of Gongwer News Service, and Rick Pluta, Michigan Radio’s Lansing bureau chief, joined Stateside to discuss who’s lining up to succeed the former dean of the House.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Retiring Detroit Congressman John Conyers leaves behind a “rich legacy” with some “significant blemishes.”

And that entire legacy will likely be an important mold for whoever replaces him, according to Detroit historian and author Ken Coleman.

But that successor will also represent a very different district than the one Conyers represented for most of his nearly 53 years in office.

Andy Levin
Andy Levin campaign

Representative Sandy Levin's 9th Congressional District seat could stay in the family when he retires in 2019.

Sandy Levin's son, Andy Levin, announced his bid Wednesday to succeed his father in Washington, D.C.

The Democrat is an entrepreneur and former head of the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor and Economic growth.

Levin says he's witnessed four decades of trickle-down economics, which has concentrated all the wealth in the top one percent in the country.

US capitol building
Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

U.S. Representative John Conyers announced his resignation yesterday. Several of the 88-year-old's former staff members have accused him of sexual harassment. His supporters held a rally in Detroit Monday urging Conyers to stay in office. 

Michigan Radio's Morning Edition host Doug Tribou and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss his decision to step down immediately instead of finishing his term. 

Ken Lund / Flickr Creative Commons HTTP://MICHRAD.IO/1LXRDJM

Michigan's emergency manager law violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and should be struck down, according to a lawsuit recently filed in federal court.

The suit charges that the law, formally known as the Local Financial Stability and Choice Act (Public Act 436), discriminates against majority black communities. 

The lawsuit claims the state unequally applied the emergency manager law to majority black cities and school districts – even when majority-white communities had the same or worse financial problems.

eandersk / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

A small Michigan college took center stage on the Senate floor for a hot moment in the debate that led up to the passing of the Senate GOP plan to revamp America's tax code.

Democrats zeroed in on an amendment that would have handed a special tax break to conservative Hillsdale College, which does not accept any federal funds.

In the second edition of UN/DIVIDED, a three-part series from Michigan Radio, we learn why school choice led to school closures in Albion. We also discuss Rep. John Conyers' resignation from Congress.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Due process.

That was the rallying cry of U.S. Rep. John Conyers’ supporters, as they gathered at Detroit’s Hartford Memorial Baptist Church to mount a full-throated defense of the 88-year-old congressman and civil rights icon Monday.

Michigan’s Legislature does not like voters checking its work. Case in point: lawmakers are back to referendum-proofing controversial legislation.

Referendum-proofing is a maneuver that’s become common in the Rick Snyder years in Lansing. If lawmakers pass legislation that has some kind of money involved in it - an appropriation - voters can’t repeal it.

Congressman John Conyers
The Henry Ford / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats are calling on Congressman John Conyers to resign over sexual harassment allegations. Pelosi called the accusations against Conyers "serious, disappointing and very credible." Conyers' attorney says the 88-year-old lawmaker might consider resigning if he can no longer effectively represent his constituents.  This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about what Conyers' next move might be.


Detroit-area Rep. Sander Levin says he won't run for an 19th term in Congress next year and will teach at the University of Michigan.

The 86-year-old Democrat confirmed today he will retire after 36 years in Washington. Levin has served on the House Ways and Means Committee for almost three decades. The powerful panel sets tax and trade laws.

Levin, known as Sandy, says he's grateful to have served residents all over the Detroit area, especially with districts being redrawn every decade. He says he'll continue "sharing the values" that he learned from his family.

Rep. Conyers
John Conyers Jr. for Congress / www.johnconyers.com/

Congressman John Conyers will make an announcement about his future “in coming days,” his attorney announced Friday.

The 88-year-old Detroit Democrat remained hospitalized for a second day for “stress-related” illness. He faces several sexual harassment allegations from former female staffers, and pressure to resign from fellow Democrats.

Conyers’ attorney Arnold Reed says that in addition to his health, a main concern is likely to be whether the Congressman can still “serve effectively.”

How do you fill a vacant seat in Congress? Should our government work more with the private sector to build roads and bridges? And should the state seize control of local government pension funds? We bring you those answers today on Stateside.

WWW.CONYERS.HOUSE.GOV

The attorney for Congressman John Conyers held a news conference this afternoon to try to discredit one of the women who was accusing Congressman Conyers of sexual harassment.

The attorney indicates Conyers will not resign, but this issue is not going away.

Democratic leaders in Congress are still calling for his resignation, so if he’s pressured further or if he’s forced out through expulsion, which is very rare, who would represent Michigan’s 13th District?

The unfinished Wayne County jail project at Gratiot near Downtown Detroit.
Wayne County / via Wayne County

Wayne County announced Friday it's scrapping plans to complete construction on its stalled jail project on Gratiot Avenue near Greektown.

It will instead pursue Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert's offer to build a brand new, $380 million criminal justice center at a different location in Detroit.

Chicago-based Walsh Construction was the lone bidder to submit a proposal to complete the roughly $400 million Gratiot project.

Dan Gilbert's Rock Ventures offered to build a jail at a new location in Detroit in exchange for the current jail site.

michigan state capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The legislature is considering a package of bills that would give the state power to step in and manage a municipality’s budget if the local government doesn’t have a way to fully fund pension plans. That’s a little more heavy-handed than a five-step plan a governor’s task force recommended.

Vicki Barnett, a former mayor of Farmington Hills and a former Democratic legislator, and Ken Sikkema, senior policy fellow with Public Sector Consultants and a former Republican majority leader in state senate, joined Stateside to discuss the package of bills.

STEVE CARMODY / MICHIGAN RADIO

Roads, bridges, and other infrastructure in Michigan are in pretty bad shape. Michigan does not have the money to tackle some of the biggest projects.

Increasingly, transportation officials are turning to the private sector for help. These public-private partnerships (P3s) are seen as a way to make improvements more efficiently. The real question, though, is whether they really are more efficient or whether they end up costing taxpayers more?

Conyers attorney Arnold Reed.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit Congressman John Conyers faces a growing number of sexual harassment allegations, and is currently in the hospital.

But his lawyer says we shouldn’t expect him to resign anytime soon.

Fellow politicians are "not going to decide his fate," attorney Arnold Reed told reporters outside the Conyers family's Detroit home Thursday. "It’s the people, the good people where we’re standing now, in this district, that said 'Yeah, we want John Conyers to represent us.'”

Today on Stateside, a Muslim community leader says President Trump's retweets of anti-Muslim videos is "disappointing" and "disheartening." And, a columnist with the Detroit Free Press explains why we need to "look at who is getting a pass" in sexual abuse investigations.

Michigan Legislature
Michigan Municipal League

The state would evaluate retirement funds in every Michigan city, township, village, and county under a legislation rolled out today by Republicans in Lansing. Communities with under-funded liabilities would have to fix that, or a state-appointed financial management team would step 

House Speaker Tom Leonard says local governments would have a chance to reach a consent agreement to fund pensions and retiree healthcare. But the team could impose its own plan if no agreement is reached. He says that could include forcing a community to sell assets.

Looking up into the rotunda of the Michigan Capitol.
user cedarbenddrive/Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Hundreds of police officers and firefighters rallied today at the state Capitol. They are trying to protect retirement benefits that include health care coverage. The Republican-controlled Legislature is expected to adopt some changes soon to shore up local employee retirement plans that are under-funded.

Kalamazoo County Sheriff Richard Fuller says fixing the problem should not be at the expense of retired first responders.

CRAIG STANLEY / NBC NEWS

The New America Foundation tells us that between 2008 and 2016, far-right attacks outnumbered Islamic terrorism by almost two to one in this country. And they were deadlier.

That got us thinking about Michigan and its history with right wing extremism. To dive into that history, Stateside spoke with JoEllen Vinyard, a professor of history at Eastern Michigan University and the author of Right in Michigan's Grassroots: From the KKK to the Michigan Militia.

slab of butter frying in a pan.
George Brett / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

In the mid-20th century, there was a smuggling ring running between western Upper Peninsula and people in Wisconsin. It didn’t involve whisky, or gun-running, but rather a substitute for butter.

Rachel Clarke with the Michigan History Center says there was demand in Wisconsin for margarine, which was illegal in the badger state, but was still for sale in Michigan stores.

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley
Michigan House Republicans

Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley has launched his long-anticipated bid for the Republican nomination for governor.

The Republican launched his long-expected candidacy Tuesday while vowing to continue an economic rebound that has resulted in the addition of more than a half million jobs in Michigan.

Calley is a former legislator who has served as Governor Rick Snyder's Number Two since 2011.

Today on Stateside, U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., says the process for handling harassment complaints in Congress needs "immediate changes." And, a Hall of Fame teacher explains why classrooms of the future should not include whiteboards and markers.

WWW.CONYERS.HOUSE.GOV

He denies the accusations that he has harassed women through the years. Yet, Democratic Congressman John Conyers said Sunday he is stepping down as the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee.

To put this move into context, Detroit Free Press Washington reporter Todd Spangler and Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Dingell joined Stateside Monday.

Congressman John Conyers
www.conyers.house.gov

Michigan Rep. John Conyers says he is stepping aside as the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee amid a congressional investigation into allegations he sexually harassed female staff members.

In a statement Sunday, the 88-year-old Conyers says he denies the allegations and would like to keep his leadership role on the panel. But he says he "cannot in good conscience" allow the charges to be an undue distraction to his House colleagues while the investigation is continuing.

Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) testifies at a hearing in 2009.
Rep. John Conyers office / Flickr

U.S. Congressman John Conyers maintains his innocence against sexual harassment accusations and says he will not resign. That’s according to a statement Conyers released via his new lawyer late Wednesday.

Conyers has previously acknowledged a $27,000 legal settlement with a former staffer. He says the settlement was a way to avoid a lengthy, expensive lawsuit.

The woman alleged Conyers fired her because she rejected his sexual advances.

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