Politics & Government

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.

State Legislature
6:39 am
Fri December 3, 2010

'Lame Duck' comes to a close

Capitol Building: Lansing, MI
Terry Johnson/Flickr

Lawmakers worked throughout Thursday night and into early the early morning hours on Friday to complete their 2009-2010 legislative session.

Lawmakers approved $10 million dollars for the 'Pure Michigan' advertising campaign.  Governor Granholm had wanted $25 million for the campaign. Democratic state Representative Dan Scripps said the deal could have been better:

You know, we’ve put two options on the Senate’s desk, and the governor’s put a third one, and essentially they punted and raided from another pot and I just don’t think that’s the way to go. We can do better than this.

Efforts to enact teacher-tenure reforms that would make it easier to fire teachers failed as did a law that would require insurance companies to cover autism treatments for children.

State Law
6:20 am
Fri December 3, 2010

Granholm wants 'Pure Michigan' funding

Governor Jennifer Granholm
Photo courtesy of www.michigan.gov

Update 12/3/2010 6:18 AM

After working into the early morning hours, the state legislature finished their 2009-2010 legislative session this Friday morning.

Lawmakers approved $10 million dollars for the 'Pure Michigan' advertising campaign.  Governor Granholm had wanted $25 million for the campaign. Democratic state Representative Dan Scripps said the deal could have been better:

You know, we’ve put two options on the Senate’s desk, and the governor’s put a third one, and essentially they punted and raided from another pot and I just don’t think that’s the way to go. We can do better than this.

___

Update 12/2/2010 1:30 PM

Michigan Public Radio Network's Rick Pluta just let us know that Governor Granholm's office says she is trying to reach a deal to use economic development funds to get the 'Pure Michigan' advertising campaign back on the air. 

As the Detroit Free Press reports:

The Pure Michigan tourism ad campaign would be saved with a $25 million infusion from the state's 21st Century Jobs Fund, based on discussions today between lawmakers and Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

The tourism industry has also been pushing hard in the final days of the 2009-2010 legislative session to get state lawmakers to agree to fund the ad campaign.

Presidential Visit
4:26 pm
Thu December 2, 2010

Former President Bush in Grand Rapids today

Former President George W. Bush visits with an audience in Grand Rapids
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Update 4:23pm

Lindsey Smith just sent in this quote from former president George Bush's talk today in Grand Rapids:

"Like in '44 if somebody in Grand Rapids, Michigan said 'I predict someday America and Japan will stand shoulder to shoulder to enhance mutual security' they would have said 'what a hopeless, idealistic nut-job you are'. But democracy transformed an enemy to an ally. I know it sounds far-fetched for some that people want to be free in the Middle East and that freedom will take hold - I think it will."

Update 3:53 pm

The event with George W. Bush in Grand Rapids just wrapped up and reporter Lindsey Smith called in with some of her highlights from the talk:

  • Bush's opening line - "Most people didn't think I couldn't read a book, much less write one."
  • Bush said after his presidency it was like going from 100 mph to 10 mph and he had to figure out what to do with all his extra time
  • About the firing of Donald Rumsfeld Bush said that his relationship with him had gone from one of "creative tension" to one of "destructive tension."
  • About 9/11 and the decision to go into Iraq Bush said that it was a bold move that had to be made. He was disappointed that no WMDs were found. He also says that 9/11 changed his mind about preemptive strikes. If he hadn't done it, he believes there would have been a dangerous nuclear arms race between Iran and Iraq.
  • Bush says he's still in touch with Condoleezza Rice, but doesn't talk much with Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld.
  • He said he doesn't judge Barack Obama, and won't be pulled into criticizing or commenting on him and his presidency.

Update 12:42 pm:

Our reporter at the event, Lindsey Smith, says Secret Service told the media that laptops are not allowed. So, it might be that we have to wait for updates until after the former President speaks.

___

6:44 am

Former President George W. Bush will be in Grand Rapids this afternoon.  He'll be promoting his new book "Decision Points" at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum.

This is the former President's second visit to Grand Rapids this year.  He attended the Economic Club of Grand Rapids in June.

Campaign Finance
1:00 pm
Thu December 2, 2010

Just how much money did candidates raise for Election 2010?

Photo by Tracy O/Flickr

Candidates who ran in Michigan's 2010 election have until today to report just how much money they raised and spent during the 2010 campaign.

The Detroit News reports that as of today:

...only one of the major statewide candidates had filed a post-election report. Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, a Republican who defeated Democrat Jocelyn Benson, filed her report a day early on Wednesday.

The Detroit News expects reports will be filed today by Governor-elect Rick Snyder.

Governor-elect Snyder
7:42 am
Thu December 2, 2010

Snyder announces director of state's D.C. office

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

Governor-elect Rick Snyder has chosen Bill McBride to be director of the State of Michigan Washington, D.C. office.  McBride was a deputy chief of staff for former-Governor of Michigan John Engler.  McBride currently is chief of staff to Michigan Republican Congressman Vern Ehlers of Grand Rapids.

In a statement released yesterday, Snyder said:

Michigan’s Congressional delegation will have significant influence in the upcoming Congress since our U.S. Senators and Representatives will chair key committees. Bill McBride’s experience and impressive working relationships on both sides of the aisle make him an outstanding choice to head up our Washington D.C. office.

Snyder takes the oath of office on January 1st, 2011.

Budget
5:54 pm
Wed December 1, 2010

Wayne Co. slashes paychecks by 20%

Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano is imposing a 20 percent pay cut on union employees.

The move comes after two years of negotiating failed to yield an agreement. Earlier this year, Ficano instituted unpaid furlough days after the union rejected a proposed 10 percent pay cut.

Joyce Ivory represents about a thousand workers with AFSCME Local 165. She says a state labor board ruled against that move, but Ficano pressed forward anyway.

State Legislature
2:43 pm
Wed December 1, 2010

House OKs bill for Detroit Institute of Arts

Inside the Detroit Institute of Arts
Maia C/Flickr

A bill approved today in the state House would allow the Detroit Institute of Arts to ask taxpayers for more money. The Associated Press reports the bill would:

...allow counties to form authorities that could ask voters for property taxes to fund arts institutes... The property taxes would have to be approved by voters in the region to take effect. Art institute authorities could ask for up to 0.2 mills.

The bill now heads to Governor Granholm for her signature. The state Senate already approved the measure.

State Legislature
1:54 pm
Wed December 1, 2010

'Lame Ducks' convene in Lansing

Capitol Building in Lansing, MI
Terry Johnston/FLICKR

Michigan lawmakers continue their 'lame duck' session in Lansing today and they're still trying to figure out the last pieces of legislation to pass before the 2009-2010 session comes to a close.

The Associated Press reports:

It's a safe bet lawmakers will pass a bill to distribute more than $300 million in federal money to schools. But... bills dealing with teacher tenure, fireworks sales, insurance coverage for autism treatments and dozens of other items could be voted on before the Legislature adjourns at the end of the week.

Bill Ballenger, the editor and publisher of the "Inside Michigan Politics" newsletter told Michigan Public Radio Network's Rick Pluta earlier this week that, "The chances of getting all of it done are slim."

Political Analysis
1:37 pm
Wed December 1, 2010

Lessenberry: Snyder is willing to go outside of the box

Michigan Radio's Jack Lessenberry

Governor-elect Rick Snyder named John Nixon as his new administration's budget director on Monday.  Nixon currently holds that position in Utah.

In an interview this morning on Michigan Radio, political analyst Jack Lessenberry said he thinks the pick shows that Snyder is willing to look outside of the box. Lessenberry said:

It shows that [Snyder] is certainly willing to... go outside the box and outside the state to find someone with a fresh approach to look at the all-important state budget problem. This is something that people had urged Governor Granholm to do when she first came in and which didn't happen.

Lessenberry went on to say that highly-regarded economist Charles Ballard often references Utah when discussing how Michigan could turn around its budget problems. Now, with the former head of Utah's Office of Planning and Budget becoming Snyder's budget director, Lessenberry said he is curious to see what lessons Michigan can learn. "Utah managed to balance its budget with a higher income tax," said Lessenberry, "It'll be interesting to see if that's part of the mix."

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State Law
11:49 am
Wed December 1, 2010

ACLU sues cities for medical marijuana bans

Voters approved the use of medical marijuana in 2008.
USFWS

The Michigan chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union announced today that it will sue the cities of Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, and Livonia. The ACLU is suing on behalf of Linda Lott, a 61 year-old from Birmingham who is suffering from multiple sclerosis.

In the ACLU's press release Lott is quoted as saying:

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State Law
11:36 am
Wed December 1, 2010

No Sunday morning liquor sales... yet

Martini
Ken30684/Creative Commons

Today is the day that a bill that allows alcohol sales on Sunday mornings and Christmas Day goes into effect. But, liquor control officials are still working on how to implement the new law. 

The Associated Press reports:

A spokeswoman for the Michigan Liquor Control Commission said Tuesday the agency will be posting applications for the $160 license needed to sell alcohol on Sunday mornings and notifying local governments about the new law this week. Local governments will have until Dec. 15 to notify state officials if they opt to ban Sunday morning sales.

Lawmakers last month approved the bill  that allows alcohol to go on sale starting at 7am on Sunday mornings and on Christmas Day.

Governor-elect Snyder
8:10 am
Wed December 1, 2010

Mr. Snyder goes to Washington

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

Governor-elect Rick Snyder will be in Washington D.C. today. He'll meet with some of Michigan's congressional delegation and members of the Republican leadership. 

The Detroit News is also reporting that Snyder will announce Bill McBride as the head of the Michigan office in Washington D.C.  McBride is currently chief of staff to retiring Republican Congressman Vern Ehlers of Grand Rapids.

Governor-elect Snyder
11:47 pm
Tue November 30, 2010

Snyder tells farmers they're one of the keys to Michigan's future

Governor-elect Rick Snyder at the Michigan Farm Bureau in Grand Rapids
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Governor-elect Rick Snyder spoke to members of Michigan’s Farm Bureau Tuesday evening.

Snyder told the crowd he’s preparing to start Michigan’s era of innovation next month. “You’re on the forefront of that. People don’t understand how innovative you are and all the efforts you do. Whether it’s increasing yields or being more environmentally sound or all the great practices. ”

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Politics
1:47 pm
Tue November 30, 2010

Michigan has no death penalty - he's a big reason why

Eugene G. Wanger penned the constitutional ban on the death penalty in Michigan
State of Michigan

Eugene G. Wanger was a 28 year-old attorney when he became a delegate for Michigan's Constitutional Convention in 1961. The republican was a strong opponent of the death penalty and authored the section in today's state constitution that bans the practice.

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