Politics & Government

U.S. Congress
4:47 pm
Wed December 8, 2010

Michigan's Dave Camp has Ways and Means

New republican leadership: Dave Camp and John Boehner
user republicanconference Flickr

Michigan Republican Dave Camp is the chairman-elect of the House Committee on Ways and Means. Camp released a statement saying it is a great honor to be selected as chairman:

"Our nation is at a crossroads – facing record debt and an unemployment rate stuck at nearly 10 percent. The decisions we make and the policies we put forward will determine whether or not we get this economy back on track and Americans back to work."

The committee has jurisdiction over revenue for the U.S. government (taxes) and "other related issues" - things like unemployment benefits, tariffs, trade agreements, Social Security, and Medicare.

Camp will take over the committee from another Michigander, Democrat Sander Levin.

Politics
2:55 pm
Wed December 8, 2010

Helen Thomas tells Anti-Defamation League to back-off

Helen Thomas speaking at Cornell University in 2007
Matt Hintsa creative commons

The Anti-Defamation League called Helen Thomas anti-Semitic after some comments she made last week at a speech in Dearborn.

On a radio interview last night, Thomas shot back at Abe Foxman, head of the Anti-Defamation League:

I'm getting tired of his intimidation. I'm going to report him to President Obama and all the proper authorities. He better stop intimidating me.

Thomas was interviewed by Scott Spears on WMRN radio in Marion, Ohio. Here's a clip:

No comment yet from the ADL.

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Political Roundup
1:06 pm
Wed December 8, 2010

The Week in State Politics with Jack Lessenberry

Michigan Radio's Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry

Every Wednesday, Morning Edition Host Christina Shockley sits down with Michigan Radio Senior Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry to get his take on recent political news from across the state. Today, the conversation begins by focusing on Governor Granholm's expression of support for President Obama's recent compromise with Republicans. On Tuesday, Obama agreed to extend Bush-era tax cuts for all taxpayers in exchange for an extension of unemployment benefits.

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Politics
12:59 pm
Wed December 8, 2010

Extended health care benefits for unmarried state workers on hold

Unmarried state workers will have to wait to see if incoming governor Rick Snyder's administration will consider extending health care benefits to their live-in partners.

Michigan Public Radio's Rick Pluta just filed this report:

The state Civil Service Commission has delayed a vote on extending health benefits to the live-in partners of state employees. The commission was poised to make a decision, but the Granholm administration proposal had too many unanswered questions -- including whether state employees would be able to claim multiple domestic partners on their benefit plans. The delay likely kicks the decision into next year, when Governor Granholm will be gone and Governor-elect Rick Snyder will have the job. Snyder's spokesman says he has not taken a position on partner benefits for state workers.

Unemployment benefits
9:06 am
Wed December 8, 2010

Granholm defends President Obama's tax 'compromise'

Governor Jennifer Granholm
Photo courtesy of www.michigan.gov

Governor Granholm says she supports President Obama’s compromise with Congressional Republicans on tax cuts.

Granholm said that the President got a ‘good deal’ by extending benefits for the long-term unemployed in exchange for the extension of Bush-era tax cuts.

Granholm said the deal will keep 180,000 people in Michigan from losing their income during the holidays:

I look at this as governor of the state with the second highest unemployment rate in the nation and I'm grateful to the President for being a pragmatic leader... the collateral damage here in Michigan from not extending the unemployment benefits would be horrific.

Granholm made the comments during a White House conference call yesterday afternoon.

U.S. Congress
6:39 am
Wed December 8, 2010

Rep. Fred Upton to chair powerful Congressional committee

Congressman Fred Upton
Republican Conference Creative Commons

Michigan Republican Congressman Fred Upton of St. Joseph will head the House Energy and Commerce Committee in the next legislative session. The GOP won control of the House of Representatives in the November election.

The House Republican Steering Committee made the announcement yesterday.

As The Detroit Free Press explains, the committee, "oversees energy policy, automobile regulations, health care, food safety and more."

In a statement released yesterday, Upton said:

I look forward to standing shoulder to shoulder with Speaker Boehner, Leader Cantor, Whip McCarthy and the entire Republican Conference as we repeal Obamacare, fight rampant job-killing regulations, cut spending, and help put folks back to work. 

Upton has served on the committee since 1991.

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State Law
10:43 pm
Tue December 7, 2010

Local governments consider controls on Sunday alcohol sales

Ken 30684/Flickr

Many communities across the state are deciding this week whether or not they should allow alcohol sales on Sunday morning. The state law allowing sales on Sunday morning and Christmas was signed into law last month. But local governments can opt their community out of the new rule.

After nearly a century as dry community, voters in Zeeland decided to allow alcohol to be sold within city limits every day but Sunday. Four years later, Zeeland has one carry out store and one restaurant that sell alcohol. Rick Van Dorp sits on city council. “I mean it was a close vote – only won by a handful of votes, maybe 14, when it did pass. And it failed a couple different times previously. So it’s kind of a contentious issue,” Van Dorp said.

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Politics
9:03 pm
Tue December 7, 2010

Report: State not making enough progress on child welfare programs

A court appointed monitor watching over Michigan’s child protective
services warns that system is “substantially non-compliant” with a court agreement. 
The state agreed to make measurable improvements to its child welfare system when it settled a lawsuit with New York-based Children’s Rights group in 2008.
But two years later, a monitor says the state Department of Human Services has shown a “frustrating lack of progress” in implementing reforms.
Sarah Bartosz, a senior attorney for Children’s Rights, says the state is about a year behind where it should be.

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Politics
4:18 pm
Tue December 7, 2010

Grand Rapids' Mayor George Heartwell to seek a 3rd term

Mayor George Heartwell speaks in support of Kids Food Basket
Steven Depolo

“There are so many exciting things happening in Grand Rapids right now when so much of the rest of Michigan is in chaos that I just quite honestly feel its fun and a great honor to represent this city as its mayor.”

Heartwell’s current term expires at the end of next year. If he’s elected and serves out a third term, Heartwell would tie his predecessor John Logie as the Grand Rapids’ longest serving mayor. Grand Rapids is the state's second largest city.

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Governor-elect Snyder
10:57 am
Tue December 7, 2010

Snyder's inaugural to be a low-key affair

Governor-elect Rick Snyder
Photo courtesy of www.governorelectricksnyder.com

Governor-elect Rick Snyder takes the oath of office in Lansing on January 1st, 2011 and The Detroit Free Press is reporting it will be a low-key affair.

Geralyn Lasher will be Snyder's Communications Director.  She told The Detroit Free Press that the Snyder inauguration will not be lavish:

We want people to have the opportunity to participate in a celebration. But there's going to be work to do the day before and the day after ... and the day after that.

Last month The Associated Press reported that Snyder will take the oath of office outdoors and give his inaugural speech on the Capitol steps.

Politics
11:50 am
Mon December 6, 2010

Helen Thomas fires back at Wayne State University

Helen Thomas was a fixture in the front row of the White House press briefing room. Here she waits for a news conference in 2007.
user kellerbn creative commons

Detroit native and a longtime journalist Helen Thomas is outspoken when it comes to defending her controversial comments.

Last week, Thomas defended the comments that got her fired over the summer. In that defense Thomas said that many American institutions are controlled by Zionists.

Here are her comments posted by Politico

"Congress, the White House and Hollywood, Wall Street, are owned by the Zionists. No question in my opinion. They put their money where their mouth is. ... We’re being pushed into a wrong direction in every way."

The Anti-Defamation League said Thomas has "revealed herself as a vulgar anti-Semite."

After her remarks last Thursday, the Detroit Free Press reports that Wayne State University ended the Helen Thomas Spirit of Diversity Award. When the paper called for a comment, Thomas had this to say:

"The leaders of Wayne State University have made a mockery of the First Amendment and disgraced their understanding of its inherent freedom of speech and the press."

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Opinion
8:59 am
Mon December 6, 2010

Commentary: Buying Congress

 

- By Jack Lessenberry

Tim Walberg, who lost his seat in Congress two years ago, is going back to Washington next month. Once he gets there, he will be paid an annual salary of $174,000 dollars a year.

That sounds pretty good, though it is a little less sweet once you realize that he has to live in two places, including one of the highest-priced real estate markets in the country.

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Governor-elect Snyder
7:26 am
Mon December 6, 2010

Snyder to discuss economic issues at WSU

Governor-elect Rick Snyder
Photo courtesy of www.governorelectricksnyder.com

Governor-elect Rick Snyder will talk about economic issues at Wayne State University later this week, according to The Detroit Free Press.

Snyder will deliver the annual George R. Husband Distinguished Lecture Series keynote address on Thursday from 1-2PM.

The Series' website says the lecture is open to the public but reservations are required.

State Legislature
6:38 am
Mon December 6, 2010

Autism debate to continue next year

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Terry Johnston/Flickr

It's expected that the debate over whether insurance companies should be required to cover autism treatments for children will continue at the state Capitol next year.

Legislation that would have required insurance companies to cover autism treatments stalled in the GOP-led state Senate in the final hours of the 2009-2010 legislative session.

Republican Lieutenant Governor-elect Brian Calley has an autistic daughter.  He's been one of the most vocal proponents of the reforms.  Calley said:

Eventually the facts will catch up with the decision-makers and this will happen. I plan to advocate for this starting immediately next year and help education the incoming members, the new members, on this issue, and find a solution for the 15,000 families in Michigan that are struggling through this right now.

Calley said he hopes leaders in next year’s Republican-controlled House and Senate will approve the reforms.

Detroit Politics
5:22 pm
Fri December 3, 2010

Mayor, Council to weigh in on new Detroit charter

Detroit Skyline
JSFauxtaugraphy/Flickr

A panel that’s drafting a new governing charter for Detroit will hear recommendations from the city’s mayor and city council this weekend. 

The Charter Revision Commission is looking at everything that has to do with how Detroit operates: How many elected officials the city should have, and how much power they should wield. How to remove elected officials from office. How many departments the city should have, and what services should be mandated.

One issue on which the mayor and city council disagree is how big the city council ought to be. 

There is agreement that the city should move away from its current system of electing members at-large, and have most council members represent districts. But Mayor Dave Bing thinks the council ought to remain at nine members, while the city council is pushing to expand it to 11. 

The Charter Revision Commission is expected to have a draft document finished in March. A citywide vote on the charter is expected next November.

The Commission meets Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm, and Sunday from 1 pm to 4 pm, at Cass Tech High School in Detroit.

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Politics
3:30 pm
Fri December 3, 2010

Money from special interest groups flooded Michigan congressional campaigns in 2010

A new study finds 3 Michigan congressional campaigns were swamped with outside money during the recent election.  And most of that money paid for negative ads.

National political parties, unions and special interest groups spent $19 million on issue ads leading up to the November election.   The money was focused on the 1st, 7th and 9th congressional districts, where Democrats were trying to fend off strong Republican challenges.

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Opinion
11:49 am
Fri December 3, 2010

Jack Lessenberry: Culture of Debt

By Jack Lessenberry

Jim McTevia never had a credit card growing up. That’s largely because there weren’t any in the small town of Marine City, Michigan where he was born. Today, he thinks that just might have saved him. He's done all right for himself; he became a well-regarded business turnaround expert without a college education.

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Politics
11:04 am
Fri December 3, 2010

Helen Thomas in Dearborn; defends controversial comments

Helen Thomas with President Gerald Ford
Marion Trikosko creative commons

Helen Thomas had worked for United Press International for 57 years. She was an opinion columnist for Hearst Newspapers from 2000 to 2010. She spent much of her career covering the White House.

She was let go earlier this year after she was briefly interviewed by Rabbi David Nesenoff of RabbiLive.com. After asking Thomas whether she had any comments on Israel, Thomas said, "tell them to get the hell out of Palestine."

The Detroit News reports that Helen Thomas, who grew up in Detroit, gave a speech saying:

"I stand by it. I told the truth," the 90-year-old Thomas told reporters shortly before a speech at a diversity conference Thursday. "I paid a price but it's worth it to speak the truth." During a speech that drew quick condemnation from Jews, Thomas took her remarks further. "Congress, the White House and Hollywood, Wall Street are owned by the Zionists," Thomas said. "No question."

Thomas spoke at the eighth-annual "Images and Perceptions of Arab American" conference in Dearborn.

State Law
8:43 am
Fri December 3, 2010

Last day for alcoholic energy drink sales

Today is the last day for alcoholic energy drink sales like Four Loko in Michigan

Today is the last day that stores in Michigan can sell alcoholic energy drinks.  Last month, the Michigan Liquor Control Commission announced it would ban sales of the controversial drinks because of health risks.

The Associated Press reports:

The Food and Drug Administration is requiring major brands of caffeinated alcoholic drinks to be taken off store shelves nationally by mid-December because of similar concerns. The agency says the combination of caffeine and alcohol in the drinks can lead to a "wide-awake drunk" and alcohol poisoning, car accidents and assaults.

At least four states have banned the drinks. You can find a list of the banned-drinks here.

Campaign Finance
6:55 am
Fri December 3, 2010

Snyder, Bernero disclose money spent in 2010 gubernatorial race

Photo by Tracy O/Flickr

As we've been reporting, yesterday was the last day for candidates who ran in Michigan’s 2010 election to report how much money they raised during the campaign season.

According to Republican Governor-elect Rick Snyder’s campaign finance reports, he spent almost $11 million during the campaign; $6 million of which was his own.

The Associated Press reports that Snyder’s largest donors were, “Pistons owner Karen Davidson and former Bechtel Group co-owner Stephen Bechtel and his wife, Elizabeth, of San Francisco.”

Snyder’s opponent in the race for governor, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, raised a little under $2 million and qualified for a little more than $1 million in public funds.

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