Politics & Government

State Legislature
7:21 am
Thu January 13, 2011

The 96th Legislature in headlines

Michigan's 96th Legislative session got underway yesterday
Cedar Bend Drive Flickr

Michigan lawmakers began the state's 96th legislative session yesterday in Lansing.  We take a quick look at what the headlines across the state have to say about the Legislature's first day:

During their first day in session, lawmakers took the oath of office and elected legislative leaders.

Politics
4:38 pm
Wed January 12, 2011

Bing sues City Council over public-access TV

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing is suing City Council over control of the city's public access television channels.
Wikipedia

 There’s a tug of war over control of Detroit’s public access television channels. Mayor Dave Bing wants to expand programming, but City Council says the service is fine as it is.

Mayor Bing is suing the Detroit City Council because it voted to give itself control over the city’s public access TV programming.

The channels are used mostly to broadcast and re-run council meetings. Bing says the resource could be better used.

Councilman Kwame Kenyatta says the mayor’s suit is disrespectful of council.

Bing spokeswoman Karen Dumas disagrees.

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State Legislature
2:08 pm
Wed January 12, 2011

New and returning state lawmakers being sworn-in at the Captiol

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Terry Johnston Flickr

Michigan lawmakers, both new and returning, are at the state Capitol today being sworn into the state Legislature. The 2011 session began at noon. Laura Weber is at the Capitol and filed this report:

Dave Hildenbrand is a Republican who will be sworn in as a state Senator. He served six years in the state House. He says House and Senate Republican lawmakers are focused on the same things:

The public spoke very clearly that they want things done differently here in Michigan, and so we’re ready to get to work to help strengthen our state and just make it a better place for the people who live here.

Hildenbrand says lawmakers want to deal the state’s complicated business tax quickly. He says the Legislature needs to help create a better business climate in Michigan.

Lawmakers will begin the new session with a new Republican Governor and a projected $1.8 billion dollar budget deficit for the fiscal year that begins October 1st.

Commentary
1:10 pm
Wed January 12, 2011

The Governor and The Auto Show

Governor Rick Snyder visited the Detroit auto show yesterday, something governors traditionally do. They greet the CEOs, make nice comments about the new models, and disappear.

I can’t recall a single thing any politician has said at the auto show that was worth remembering.  But this year is a little different. Two years ago, it was highly uncertain whether there would be either an domestic auto industry or an auto show in 2011.

What’s more, almost nobody in the industry or the state had ever heard of Rick Snyder, and nobody imagined he’d be governor.

Well, the auto industry is a good bit healthier today, and the state is getting used to a governor who doesn’t like to wear a tie, and doesn’t mind being called a nerd. Like other governors before him, Snyder didn’t say anything especially stirring at the auto show. But he did a few things worth noting. He didn’t just visit what we might now call the not-so-big three, Ford, General Motors and Chrysler. He stopped by Kia and Hyundai and Toyota too.

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News Roundup
8:26 am
Wed January 12, 2011

In this morning's news...

Legislature Returns to Lansing

Michigan lawmakers will be at the state Capitol today for the first day of the new 2011-2012 legislative session.  Lawmakers will be sworn-in and adopt new rules. Due to term limits and a strong Republican showing in last November’s election, the majority of lawmakers in both the state House and Senate will be new to the job. The legislature is facing a projected $1.8 billion dollar budget deficit for the fiscal year that begins October 1st.

Snyder Visits NAIAS

Governor Rick Snyder visited the North American International Auto Show yesterday in Detroit. Snyder was joined by his Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, among others. The Governor toured the Ford and Prius pavilions and sat in a Chevy Volt. Snyder told reporters:

The role of manufacturing and the auto industry in Michigan’s future is critical. I don’t walk away from it all. Actually, I embrace it. That is part of our heritage. That is something we have world-class people in.

The show opened to the media for previews on Monday and opens to the public on Saturday.

Proposed Closings for Detroit Schools

Detroit Public Schools Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb has submitted a plan to state education officials that calls for the closing of 70 Detroit Public School buildings by 2013. The closings are part of Bobb’s proposed deficit-elimination plan for DPS. The school district currently faces a $327 million budget deficit. The Detroit News reports that in the past year alone, the district’s debt has increased by more than $100 million.

New Football Coach for UM

University of Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon announced yesterday afternoon that Brady Hoke will be the new University of Michigan football coach.  Hoke will be the 19th coach in the football team’s 131-year history. Hoke is no stranger to Ann Arbor, Steve Carmody reports. He worked as an assistant coach for the Wolverines for 8 seasons including during the 1997 national championship season. Hoke’s 28 year career includes stops at Grand Valley State, Western Michigan, and Toledo.

Governor Snyder
7:53 am
Wed January 12, 2011

State Department of Agriculture gets a name change

Michigan farm
Prima Civitas Foundation Flickr

The Michigan Department of Agriculture is, now, officially the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. Governor Rick Snyder announced in November that he would make the change.  He signed an order, yesterday, making it official.

The Associated Press reports, "the governor says the new name is 'a clear signal' his administration plans to help the agriculture industry grow so rural areas gain new and better jobs."

Governor Snyder appointed Keith Creagh to head the Department. Creagh used to be the Department's deputy director.

In a statement released yesterday, Creagh said:

Agriculture today is a high tech industry that relies on trained professionals with knowledge of the newest methods from biology and chemistry to packing and shipping. Expanding educational opportunities will give Michigan's agricultural producers a competitive edge and ensure jobs are available for recent graduates who want to stay in their home communities.

State Legislature
7:37 am
Wed January 12, 2011

Lawmakers begin new legislative session

State Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Matthileo Flickr

Michigan lawmakers return to the state Capitol today for the first day of the 2011-2012 legislative session. Lawmakers will be sworn-in and adopt rules, including a dress code.

As the Associated Press reports, the majority of lawmakers in both the Senate and the House will be new to their jobs:

The turnover is caused partly by the state's term limits law and a strong showing by Republicans in last year's elections. Republicans built on their advantage in the Senate and grabbed control of House from Democrats.

Lawmakers will begin the new session with a new Republican Governor and a projected $1.8 billion dollar budget deficit for the fiscal year that begins October 1st.

Both the Senate and House will also see new legislative leaders. Republican Randy Richardville will be Senate Majority Leader and Democrat Gretchen Whitmer will be the Senate Minority Leader.  In the House, Republican Jase Bolger will be Speaker and Democrat Richard Hammel will be the House Minority Leader.

Education
6:39 am
Wed January 12, 2011

New president for Michigan's State Board of Education

For the first time in a decade, Michigan's State Board of Education has a new president. Yesterday, John Austin was unanimously elected to lead the board.  He replaces fellow Democrat Kathleen Straus. Democrats have a 5-3 majority on the board.

Austin was first elected to the board in 2000 and re-elected in 2008.

In a release sent out yesterday, Austin said he is, "proud that during his 10 years on the State Board... the Board has functioned as a bi-partisan change agent for education reform and improvement"

As the Associated Press reports:

Democrat Casandra Ulbrich was elected vice president, Republican Nancy Danhof was elected secretary and Democrat Marianne Yared McGuire will continue as treasurer. Republican Richard Zeile will represent the state board on the National Association of State Boards of Education.

Commentary
11:55 am
Tue January 11, 2011

Rule of Law

It’s sometimes easy to be cynical about what we used to call “the system” back in the days when bell-bottom jeans were common.

Too often, it appears that society at all levels still functions under the golden rule, as in, he who has the gold, makes the rules.

Ideally, things are supposed to work according to the words engraved on the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington: Equal Justice Under Law.” But in practice, it too often seems that things  are more like the famous New Yorker cartoon in which a judge peers down at a defendant, and asks:

“So, how much justice can you afford?“

Read more
News Roundup
8:15 am
Tue January 11, 2011

In this morning's news...

New State Supreme Court Justice

Governor Rick Snyder announced yesterday his appointment of state Appeals Court Judge Brian Zahra to the Michigan Supreme Court. Snyder named Zahra to the state’s highest court to replace Supreme Court Justice Maura Corrigan.  Corrigan will begin a new job on Friday as the Director of the Michigan Department of Human Services. Like Corrigan, Zahra is a Republican.  That means the state Supreme Court will keep its 4-3 GOP majority.

Politicians Flock to NAIAS

Politicians from across the country are visiting the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The show opened for media previews yesterday and opens to the public on Saturday.  Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow attended the show on Monday where she told reporters she was excited that the Chevy Volt won the Car of the Year award at the show. Also yesterday, U.S. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer toured the show with four Michigan Democratic Congressmen: Reps. John Dingell, Sander Levin, Gary Peters, and Hansen Clarke.  Governor Rick Snyder and Lt. Gov. Brian Calley will tour the show today.

Ford Announces New Hiring

Ford Motor Company announced yesterday that it will add more than 7,000 workers in the U.S. over the next two years.  As the Associated Press reports:

The company plans to hire 4,000 manufacturing workers this year. Almost half those workers will be at the Louisville Assembly Plant in Kentucky that will make the new Ford Escape starting late this year. It expects to add at least 2,500 new manufacturing jobs in 2012. The company said it is beginning a recruiting effort this week in Detroit and other cities, including San Jose, Calif., and Raleigh and Durham, N.C.

Politics
3:36 pm
Mon January 10, 2011

"Kilpatrick Enterprise" arraigned in court today

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick
Dave Hogg Flickr

Prosecutors have dubbed the five men accused of pocketing millions of dollars in exchange for contracts with the city of Detroit the "Kilpatrick Enterprise."

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was indicted in federal court today, along with Kilpatrick’s father, Bernard Kilpatrick; former city contractor Bobby Ferguson; former Detroit Water Department head Victor Mercado; and former city official Derrick Miller.

Read more
Politics
2:00 pm
Mon January 10, 2011

Congressman talks about security in wake of Giffords tragedy

Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody caught up with Michigan Congressman Hansen Clarke. Carmody asked Clarke about his reaction to the Giffords tragedy:

The annual North American International Auto Show in Detroit has often been a place for local members of Congress to meet and greet constituents.

But this weekend's assassination attempt on an Arizona congresswoman is raising questions about security.

Detroit Congressman Hansen Clarke says this weekend's assassination attempt on an Arizona congresswoman has affected his security plans:

"We are implementing some of the procedures recommended by the U. S. Capitol Police, but I feel confident that those will be adequate."

Clarke was sworn in for his first turn in Congress just days ago.

One of the first people he met was Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

Clarke says the two talked about both being graduates of Cornell University.

He expressed sadness on the attempt on Giffords' life, but he says that danger is just a fact of life that all elected officials must face:

"I'm not going to change how I work.   I'm going to be as open and available to the public.  I think that's very important.  I represent the taxpayers. I'm paid by the taxpayers.  I'm hired by them to work for them.  They need to know that their government is open and available to them."

Arizona Shooting
11:07 am
Mon January 10, 2011

Snyder issues statement on Rep. Giffords' attack

The scene in Tucson, Arizon after Saturday's shooting
Search Net Media Flickr

Governor Rick Snyder has released a statement regarding the shooting of U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords on Saturday in Tucson, Arizona.  Six were killed in the attack and 13 others were wounded.  Governor Snyder said:

I would like to offer my support and prayers for Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the other victims of the horrific shooting in Arizona and their families.

The senseless, despicable act of violence that our nation witnessed over the weekend tears at the very fabric of our democracy.  But, as we all know, Americans rally together in the face of tragedy and adversity.  Our spirit will not be broken.  We will emerge from this horrible incident stronger and more committed than ever to move our nation forward.  As the president requested, Michigan will demonstrate its respect for the victims by flying all U.S. flags at half-staff through Friday.

I will call Arizona Governor Jan Brewer later today to share these sentiments and to let her know that the people of Michigan are praying for the rapid recovery of Congresswoman Giffords and the other victims.

I know the hearts of every Michigander are with the Congresswoman, the victims, their families and the people of Arizona.”

Members of Michigan's congressional delegation have released statements decrying the shooting.

Michigan Supreme Court
10:32 am
Mon January 10, 2011

5 things to know about your new state Supreme Court justice

Earlier this morning, Governor Rick Snyder announced that he was appointing Appeals Court Judge Brian Zahra to the Michigan Supreme Court. 

Judge Zahra will be taking over the place of state Supreme Court Justice Maura Corrigan.  Corrigan will leave the court on Friday to begin a new job as the head of the state Department of Human Services.  Governor Snyder named her the Director of DHS last week.

So, just who is Judge Brian Zahra?  Here are 5 things we know:

  1. He has a Bachelor of General Studies degree from Wayne State University. He also has a J.D. from the University of Detroit School of Law.
  2. He has served on the Michigan Court of Appeals since 1999.
  3. In 2006 he received Jurist of the Year from the Police Officers’ Association of Michigan.
  4. He is a member of the State Bar of Michigan.
  5. He is married and has two children.
News Roundup
9:07 am
Mon January 10, 2011

In this morning's news...

American Automakers Win Big

Two U.S. automakers have won prestigious awards at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this morning. The Chevrolet Volt won the 2011 North American Car of the Year award. The Ford Explorer won the Truck of the Year award.  Forty-nine auto journalists from around North America made the picks. The show opened this morning to the media. It opens to the public on Saturday and runs through January 23rd.

Michigan Lawmakers Show Support for Rep. Giffords

Members of Michigan's congressional delegation have been sending out their thoughts on Saturday's shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (AZ-D) where 6 died and 13 others were wounded. The Associated Press reports:

Rep. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, served with Giffords on the House Science and Technology Committee in the last session of Congress. He says he grieves for those killed and prays for the "speedy and full recovery" of her and the others wounded. Rep. Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township, says she and Giffords share an interest in border security and the space program. Miller says she's "deeply saddened by this senseless crime."

State Lawmakers Back to Lansing

Michigan legislators return to the Capitol this week to be sworn-in.  And, much like the first day of school, they’ll choose their seats and establish rules, such as dress codes. Unlike most schools though, lawmakers will come to Lansing facing a projected $1.8 billion dollar budget deficit. It’s also expected that legislative leaders will begin to establish plans and agendas for the coming months of session.

Snyder to Name Supreme Court Justice

Governor Rick Snyder will hold a morning news conference today to name his appointee to the state Supreme Court. Last week, Snyder named Supreme Court Justice Maura Corrigan to head the state Department of Human Services, thus leaving an empty seat on the court. Corrigan will step down from the state’s highest court on Friday to begin her new job.

State Legislature
7:42 am
Mon January 10, 2011

State lawmakers (new and old) return to the Capitol

Inside the Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Cedar Bend Drive Flickr

Michigan lawmakers return to Lansing this week. The new state legislature will be sworn in at the state Capitol. 

Michigan Public Radio's Laura Weber filed this report from Lansing:

New and returning lawmakers will be greeted in Lansing by a nearly $2 billion budget deficit, and no new federal stimulus to help them fill the holes. Many new Republican lawmakers say they were elected to cut state spending and reduce the size of government. Republican leaders in both the House and Senate say local government revenue sharing could be on the line for deep cuts. The Legislature has several months to balance the budget. This week lawmakers will be sworn in, choose their seats on the floor, and establish rules of the chamber.

Arizona Shooting
6:51 am
Mon January 10, 2011

Michigan Congressional delegation shows support for Rep. Giffords

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (AZ-D)
Freedom to Marry Flickr

Members of Michigan's congressional delegation sent out releases over the weekend expressing their anger and sadness over the shooting of U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords in Tuscon, Arizona on Saturday.  Six people were killed in the attack outside of a Safeway.

As the Associated Press reports:

Rep. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, served with Giffords on the House Science and Technology Committee in the last session of Congress. He says he grieves for those killed and prays for the "speedy and full recovery" of her and the other wounded. Rep. Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township, says she and Giffords share an interest in border security and the space program. Miller says she's "deeply saddened by this senseless crime."

Meanwhile, Jared Loughner, the 22-year-old who is accused of killing six and injuring 13 others as he tried to kill Rep. Giffords, will appear in federal court today in Phoenix.

Read more
Michigan Supreme Court
6:34 am
Mon January 10, 2011

Snyder to name new state Supreme Court Justice today

Governor Rick Snyder will announce his appointment to the Michigan Supremem Court at a press conference today
Photo courtesy of www.governorelectricksnyder.com

Governor Rick Snyder will name a new state Supreme Court Justice today at a morning news conference.

Snyder will be appointing a replacement for current Justice Maura Corrigan.  Snyder named Corrigan to head the state Department of Human Services last week. Corrigan will step down from the court on Friday to begin her new job.

There's been no word yet on who will replace her, but the Associated Press reports:

Appeals Court Judge Jane Markey of Grand Rapids wants Snyder to name her to the court because she'd bring a west Michigan perspective. The 59-year-old sent out an unusual release late Saturday asking for the appointment and noting that the court hasn't had a justice from Grand Rapids since 1946. Appeals Court Judge Brian Zahra of Northville may be higher on Snyder's list. He turned 51 Sunday and ran unsuccessfully for the high court in 2004.

Politics
2:41 pm
Fri January 7, 2011

Ted Nugent, Anderson Cooper, and Sarah Palin

In case you missed it, Michigan's Ted Nugent talked with CNN's Anderson Cooper about Sarah Palin's prospects for the presidency (spoiler alert - he wouldn't vote for her if she was running today). Here's the interview:

Governor Snyder
12:10 pm
Fri January 7, 2011

Inside the Snyder administration

Governor Rick Snyder
Corvair Owner Flickr

Governor Rick Snyder has been appointing directors for various state departments over the past few weeks.  The announcement of Supreme Court Justice Maura Corrigan to the state Department of Human Services came just yesterday.

The Associated Press has put together a look at who is in charge at various state departments:

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