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Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

Michigan's Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) has wrongly accused tens of thousands of people of cheating on their unemployment claims.
Bytemarks / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The state has admitted it made a whopping mistake when it accused tens of thousands of Michiganders of cheating on their unemployment benefits.

The Unemployment Insurance Agency reviewed 62,784 cases where people were accused of fraud and hit with penalties.

In some 44,000 of those cases, that accusation was completely false – no fraud took place.

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

A grassroots group that wants to get an anti-gerrymandering proposal on the 2018 ballot is looking to make progress this week.

Voters Not Politicians is the non-partisan group in charge of the effort. It wants to change how the state draws its district lines.

The Board of State Canvassers will meet Thursday to approve or reject the form of the petition. It will look at things like font size and which portions of the constitution are referenced. This is meant to prevent lawsuits for improper format down the road.

After just a few months in office, Macomb County Clerk Karen Spranger has found herself in conflict with nearly every other branch of county government.

So she’s suing to clarify that she’s “the boss” of her office.

But Spranger now wants the entire Macomb Circuit Court to disqualify itself from deciding that case because of conflicts of interest.

Judge Kathryn Viviano today declined to do that. She disqualified herself, citing the “high and escalating” level of dispute between the clerk’s office and other county officials.

Can a politician who breaks the law be forced to quit his job and be ordered not to run again?

That question could interrupt the Michigan Supreme Court’s summer recess.

statue of Robert E. Lee atop a horse
Public Domain

Seventy-two years ago today, for the first time ever, the Emperor of Japan spoke to his subjects on nationwide radio.  “Circumstances in the world conflict have proceeded in a manner not necessarily to our advantage,” he said. 

That was perhaps the greatest example of euphemism and circumlocution in history. What the emperor was really saying was “we have lost World War II, and we have no choice except to surrender.” I thought of this in the aftermath of the terrible events in Virginia, where a messed-up character obsessed with Nazis apparently drove his car into a group of people, killing one young woman and injuring many more people.

Donald Trump tweet
@realDonaldTrump Twitter

As violence erupted in Charlottesville, Virginia this weekend, some of Michigan's lawmakers took to social media.  

Macomb County Circuit Court
Macomb County

A Macomb County Circuit Court judge could decide Monday whether a case against embattled county clerk Karen Spranger will move forward.

County officials have accused Spranger of lying about her address when she filed to run for office last year. If the case proceeds, a judge will decide whether there's enough evidence to legally disqualify Spranger from office.

"If the courts come back and say 'Nope, everything's fine,' then so be it -- she's the clerk, and we'll have to deal with the challenges we face or have been facing," Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel said.

asbestos warning sign
ktorbeck / Wikimedia Commons

A new audit this week says Michigan needs more inspectors and more money when it comes to asbestos remediation. According to the report, there are only four inspectors in the entire state to respond to complaints, issue violations and inspect landfills. This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about why the program is falling behind. 

Courtesy photo / City of Flint

Long-time Flint City Councilman Scott Kincaid plans to run against Flint Mayor Karen Weaver in her November recall election.

Kincaid is already on the November ballot for his 9th Ward seat. He says he could potentially win both the council race and the mayor's race.

"If I win the mayor's race, then I would have to just resign from the city council," says Kincaid.  "And there'd be a special election and then we'd go through that process."

Mapping Inequality: Redlining in New Deal America / Creative Commons

The legacy of discrimination against people of color and discrimination against certain religions is powerfully present in Michigan cities to this day.

A new data investigation from Bridge Magazine's Mike Wilkinson analyzed a series of housing maps produced by the Home Owners Loan Corporation and later used by the Federal Housing Administration. Wilkinson examined maps of nine cities across the state.

BYTEMARKS / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCLO

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The state of Michigan says it has reversed 70% of unemployment benefit fraud cases and is refunding $20.8 million after people were wrongly accused of collecting excessive benefits.

The Unemployment Insurance Agency announced the results of a review Friday. It reviewed more than 62,000 cases for people who were assessed a fraud penalty and did not seek an appeal. About 44,000 cases were reversed.

Michigan has been under fire for a computer system that wrongly churned out cases of fraud. Last month, it dropped criminal charges against 186 people.

Shri Thanedar says Michigan should spend more resources investing in programs to benefit its residents. He's a candidate for the Democratic nomination to be Michigan's next governor.
Lester Graham

Next year, Michigan will choose a new governor. Several people have announced their candidacies, including Ann Arbor resident and entrepreneur Shri Thanedar.

Thanedar is running as a Democrat. He’s wealthy and has never held political office. He has criticized Governor Rick Snyder, by saying government shouldn’t be run with a spreadsheet mentality. If elected, Thanedar says he would improve the quality of life for average people in Michigan.

duggan with tapscott posing for cameras
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

In a ceremony at Detroit’s Northwest Activities Center on Wednesday, a small handful of Detroiters regained homes lost to property tax foreclosure.

The group of 60 was the second to complete the Detroit Land Bank’s “occupied buy-back” program. About 80 people completed the program last month.

The Detroit Land Bank now has close to 100,000 properties in its inventory, making it the largest property owner in the city. Around 4,000 of them are thought to be occupied.

john conyers
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

An ethics investigation of Detroit Congressman John Conyers appears set to move to the next level.

For months, the Board of the Office of Congressional Ethics have been looking into claims John Conyers continued to pay his former chief of staff for time while she was on "unpaid" leave.

A mock-up of the proposed downtown development project by Gibbs Planning Group
Bob Gibbs / Gibbs Planning Group

If you live in a city or town that dates back to before World War Two, you've got a "Main Street," you've got parks, and you can walk around town to restaurants and stores.

Cities that sprouted up after the war? Not so much.

Those are largely made up of shopping strips, office buildings, plenty of subdivisions — and you definitely need a car. There's no "downtown" that's the center of the community.

sign that says "vote here"
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan Radio Morning Edition Host Doug Tribou and Senior News Analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss the results of yesterday's primary elections in Detroit, Flint and Pontiac. 

attorney and sons talking
Tyler Scott / Michigan Radio

Ann Arbor resident and Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainee Jose Luis Sanchez-Ronquillo is hoping to be released while the Board of Immigration Appeals considers whether to reopen his immigration case.

Supporters and family members of Sanchez-Ronquillo rallied outside of the ICE field office in Detroit on Tuesday as his attorney submitted a request for his release.

a veteran medal
RAY TYLER IMAGES / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCLO

The Department of Veterans Affairs is the country's largest integrated health system. Nearly nine million of America’s veterans get medical care from the VA.

Ninety-six years ago today, the precursor to what we now know as the VA began with a stroke of President Warren G. Harding’s pen.

john conyers
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit Congressman John Conyers may learn Wednesday if an ethics probe against him will continue or if it has reached its end.

For months, the House Ethics Committee has been looking into a complaint lodged against the Democrat. The exact nature of the complaint has not been made public. But several news outlets say it may involve compensation paid to a former staffer for months after she left her job in his office.

detroit vs everbody t shirt with i voted sticker
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

A race that usually flies under the radar is shaping up as one of the more interesting contests in Tuesday’s primary elections.

The race for city clerk in Detroit has drawn more attention, and candidates, than usual this election cycle.

Six candidates are looking to unseat three-term city clerk Janice Winfrey. The top two vote-getters in the primary will advance to the general election this November.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan
Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

We should know by Tuesday night which candidates will vie for Detroit mayor in this November's election.

The top two vote-getters will move on from tomorrow’s primary.

First-term incumbent Mike Duggan is seen as the heavy favorite right now. He’s running for re-election on a kind of “good start” platform.

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

A new Bridge Magazine report for the Detroit Journalism Cooperative says a lot in just the headline. It reads, “Botched elections. Missing ballots. Is this any way to run a democracy?

When an audit of last year's election turned up discrepancies between the number of voters recorded and the number of ballots counted in Detroit, many people immediately jumped to the conclusion that fraud was involved. But this new report suggests incompetence was more likely to blame.

Ann Arbor skyline
Gsgeorge / goodfreephotos / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The primary election Tuesday could make a big difference in Ann Arbor's skyline — as well as its future.

The election pits two kinds of Democrats against each other: those who want to slow down the city's growth, especially when it comes to new high-rise development, and those who say continued growth is necessary.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Tuesday’s primary election could set the stage for a revamped Flint city council: 6 of the 9 council members are facing multiple challengers.  The other three will have a challenger in November’s general election.

The Flint city council has struggled with Mayor Karen Weaver and itself in recent years, as the city has slowly moved out from under state oversight.  A panel appointed by the state still has final say on big issues facing the city.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Lansing voters will take a step toward electing a new mayor August 8th. 

On Tuesday, Lansing will hold a mayoral primary election which for the first time in a dozen years will not feature Virg Bernero on the ballot.

Bernero’s decision not to run for re-election this year opened the door to five candidates seeking Lansing’s mayor’s office.

Stateside 8.4.2017

Aug 4, 2017

Today on Stateside, we get an update on the toxic algal blooms on Lake Erie, the same kind that shut down Toledo's water system three years ago. And a new report indicates that past Michigan legislatures have committed the state to an ever-shrinking general fund. We talk with Ken Sikkema, former Republican legislative leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and former Democratic legislator Vicki Barnett about that.

A picture of Chelsea District Library
Burrill Strong Photography / Courtesy of Chelsea District Library

Bart and Mary Beth Hammer would welcome any solution to their internet woes.

“You can get a satellite dish, but it’s so slow,” said Bart Hammer, airline pilot and Lyndon Township resident. “And you only get a small amount of data [so] that you can’t stream anything.”

A photograph of the Michigan Capitol building
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio file photo

Not much is happening with Michigan’s legislature. They’re out of session for much of August. But a state budget of more than $56 billion dollars was passed on time this year.

A recent report from the nonprofit, nonpartisan Citizens Research Council of Michigan indicates that the $10 billion general fund — the only part of the budget the Legislature can influence — will be hit hard in the next few years general fund obligations grow.

Detroit precincts will have new vote tabulators for the primary.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Despite receiving unfavorable national attention for some serious problems in last November’s general election, Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey pledges that Tuesday’s primary election should run smoothly.

Winfrey says a combination of new voting equipment and improved poll-worker training should help avoid the problems that plagued Detroit precincts in November.

An aborted presidential recount found that votes couldn’t be “reconciled” in more than half of all Detroit precincts, meaning that voter poll books didn’t match the number of ballots cast. 

karen weaver
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver will face a recall election in November over her support for a trash removal contract opposed by the city council. Executives at Rizzo, the trash removal company, were later indicted in Macomb County for bribery and fraud.

Weaver wanted the petition thrown out, saying that recall organizers didn't gather enough valid signatures. But Genesee County Clerk John Gleason says his review of the petitions found enough valid signatures to call the election.

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