Politics & Government

Politics & Government
7:00 am
Mon June 23, 2014

Detroit suburbs see influx of Iraqis as global refugee population soars

Playing games during the World Refugee Day picnic at Warren's Hamlich Park.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Hundreds of people gathered at a Warren park this past weekend for a picnic celebrating World Refugee Day--and the area’s growing refugee community.

According to state data, of the 4658 refugees re-settled in Michigan last year, nearly three-quarters are from Iraq.

And many of them have settled in Macomb County suburbs, particularly Sterling Heights and Warren.

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Politics & Government
9:29 pm
Sun June 22, 2014

Snyder signals possible veto of e-cigarette bills

Electronic cigarettes are battery powered devices that simulate tobacco smoking. The devices produces vapor instead of smoke.
Credit WKAR

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is signaling he may veto legislation to prevent minors from buying electronic cigarettes because he doesn't think it would go far enough and regulate the vaporizers like traditional tobacco products.

The governor says he's "had issues" with the bills and they will get extra review.

The Legislature approved three e-cigarette measures that would prohibit the sale and use of e-cigarettes devices by those under age 18.

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Detroit bankruptcy
6:08 pm
Fri June 20, 2014

Snyder signs Detroit rescue package, stresses city’s recovery

Credit JSFauxtaugraphy/Flickr

Gov. Rick Snyder has signed legislation that authorizes the state’s $195 million contribution to the Detroit bankruptcy settlement. The governor says the settlement is a good deal for taxpayers because it sets the stage for the city’s comeback.

Gov. Snyder called Detroit’s bankruptcy the “darkest chapter” in the city’s history. But he says the taxpayer donation shows the entire state is behind the Detroit recovery effort.

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Politics & Government
10:51 pm
Thu June 19, 2014

Wayne County sues to collect back taxes on properties it once sold at tax-foreclosure auctions

Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Wayne County treasurer Raymond Wojtowicz’s office has filed a lawsuit to collect about $80 million in delinquent property taxes.

The irony is that these are taxes owed on properties the county once owned, but sold at auction after they were foreclosed on...for delinquent property taxes.

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Politics & Government
5:46 pm
Thu June 19, 2014

Former Kent County commissioner to serve a year in jail for sex crimes against minor

Credit File photo / Kent County Sheriff

A former Kent County commissioner will spend a year in jail after pleading guilty to fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct charges.

Gary Rolls resigned his county commission seat earlier this year. He was accused of beginning a sexual relationship with a girl when she was nine. She's now in her late 20s.

Rolls said nothing before he was sentenced Thursday afternoon.  

In a statement, the victim told the judge Rolls used his position in power to threaten her.

“I saw him with police officers and important people in the news and I believed him,” she said.

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Stateside
4:14 pm
Thu June 19, 2014

Stateside for Thursday, June 19, 2014

On Stateside today: 

  • An update with Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes on the GM ignition-switch debacle.
  • Two Democratic representatives try to overturn a law that makes women buy extra coverage for an abortion. 
  • The last day of Stateside's music series, Songs Save Lives.
  • Mary Erlewine’s seventh studio album was released today by Earthwork Music.
  • There are those who see a wealth of ways drones could help us and boost the economy. And they see Michigan as being a key player in the future of drones. But what are the regulations for commercial drones?
  • Did you know that Jiffy Mix is made in Michigan?

*Listen to full story above. 

Politics & Government
10:49 am
Thu June 19, 2014

Michigan to make sure felons can't work as in-home health aides

James Haveman, Director of the Michigan Department of Community Health
Credit MDCH / MDCH

Michigan Health Director Jim Haveman says a Medicaid program that pays for in-home care is being revamped.

A recent state audit showed the program allowed some convicted felons to work with patients.

Haveman says the changes will protect taxpayers and patients.

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Stateside
9:31 pm
Wed June 18, 2014

A million Iraqi Christians have fled their home country; some found new homes in Michigan

Credit AP Photo

Headlines and images emerging from Iraq have put a spotlight on warfare between Sunni and Shiite sects of Islam.

But these are uneasy times for Christian Iraqis – or Chaldeans.

Since 2003, about a million Iraqi Christians have fled their home country since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and the fall of Saddam Hussein caused other groups to see the Chaldeans as U.S. allies.

Many of those Chaldeans have found new homes in Michigan.

*Listen to full interview above. 

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Stateside
6:43 pm
Wed June 18, 2014

Stateside for Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Today on Stateside: 

  • Mary Barra was back on Capitol Hill with independent investigator Anton Valukas and a 300-page report. 
  • European car sales are on the rise after a six-year slump.
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Politics & Government
8:45 am
Wed June 18, 2014

The week in Michigan politics

Credit Matthileo / Flickr

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry and Christina Shockley discuss the latest in the same-sex marriage debate, roads funding, whether Democrats can overturn the abortion insurance law, and a new controversy with the Education Achievement Authority.

Week in Michigan politics interview for 6/18/14

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Stateside
5:52 pm
Tue June 17, 2014

Failure to fix Michigan roads is "not that big a deal, really," says Richardville

Credit Peter Ito / flickr

The state Senate failed to pass a road repair plan.

Drivers who vote have been clear that they want these roads fixed, yet Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, says the failure was "not that big a deal, really."

Chris Gautz, the Lansing reporter for Crain's Detroit Business, explained what Richardville was trying to say.

Gautz said Richardville was trying to point out that the money budgeted for road funding would be in next year’s budget, and that money wouldn't start being generated until January.

“All of the big, monumental changes they were trying to make in the state’s transportation funding system were long-term fixes, and weren’t going to fill a pothole on your street this summer,” Gautz said.

*Listen to the  full interview above. 

Stateside
7:44 pm
Mon June 16, 2014

Stateside for Monday, June 16, 2014

Here's what we talked about on Stateside today:

  • State lawmakers say "yes" to the MEAP and "no" to the Smarter Balanced Assessment tests in Michigan school. What happens for students next year?
  • Just the way students end their school year with a report card, so should our elected representatives be measured in how effectively they tackled issues important to Michigan. Detroit Free Press Lansing Bureau reporter Kathy Gray breaks it all down for us in terms of pass, fail, or incomplete.
  • Stateside’s Emily Fox reports from the Upper Peninsula to see if the region has what it takes to develop a new wine region in the state.
  • With soccer, there's a lot of credence put into national identities and how teams play. But our guest Andy Markovits challenges us to think differently.
  • Stateside’s Kyle Norris talks about stories she heard when she asked this question, “Do you have a song that saved your life?”
  • Also, a Michigan traveler describes her 1,000-mile Great Lakes island adventure.

*Listen to full show above. 

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Politics & Government
7:41 pm
Mon June 16, 2014

Feathers fly in Flint over backyard chickens

“You know we’ve become so distant from where our food comes from," says Roxanne Adair, operator of Flint River Farms.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

One of Flint’s leading urban farmers is being told she has to get rid of her chickens.

Roxanne Adair operates a commercial urban farm in Flint. She sells the produce from her two-acre farm at the local farmers market and to individual clients. She also keeps eight chickens in her home's backyard.   She’s been raising chickens in her backyard for the past few years.     

Adair says she eats many of the eggs herself and gives others away. She admits she will also sell another dozen or so a week.  

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Politics & Government
6:04 pm
Mon June 16, 2014

Michigan forges official relationship with Israel on industrial R&D

Gov. Snyder and Israeli Consul General to the Midwest Roey Gilad met in Dearborn on Monday to sign a memorandum of understanding to do joint industrial research and development.

Gov. Rick Snyder has cemented a formal relationship between Michigan and Israel to collaborate on industrial research and development.

The governor and Israeli Consul General to the Midwest Roey Gilad signed a memorandum of understanding Monday in Dearborn.  

Snyder says the deal was reached after more than a year of talks with Israeli officials.

“I look forward to seeing this not be the end of something, but merely a stopping point on a journey of strengthened relationships,” said Snyder.

The formal relationship is partly the result of the governor’s trade mission to Israel this time last year. That trip was cut short by negotiations in Lansing over expanding Medicaid.

Politics & Government
6:00 pm
Mon June 16, 2014

Snyder: More needs to be done to help refugees in Michigan

Gov. Snyder says the state needs help figuring out how to help refugees who come to Michigan.
Credit Michigan Municipal League / Flickr

The number of refugees who have settled in Michigan has grown in recent years – and Governor Rick Snyder says more should be done to help them.

At a town hall meeting at the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, Snyder called on community leaders to help the state find ways to help refugees.

“It’s important that we find ways to help these people - they’ve gone through terrible circumstances – about making them feel welcome in our country,” Snyder told reporters after the town hall.

“We want to be more proactive. So, that’s where I actually want to work with groups to really make sure we’ve identified the various issues. I think there’s more work that we can do to improve.”

The governor stopped short of offering any specific policy proposals to address the issue.

Immigration groups say the number of refugees in Michigan has been climbing due in part to conflicts in the Middle East.

Politics & Government
1:35 pm
Mon June 16, 2014

Kildee fears Obama's possible support of Iraq might tempt U.S back into war

“Obviously my main concern is that we do not act in a rash manner,” says Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint)
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan Congressman Dan Kildee is concerned the current crisis in Iraq might pull the U.S. back into that country.

Sunni militants have seized control of several northern Iraqi cities and are threatening to attack Baghdad, the capital of Iraq.

The Obama administration recently hinted at possible options to help support the Iraqi government.

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Politics & Government
9:48 am
Mon June 16, 2014

New state budget has $3 million for prosecutions linked to rape kits

The budget approved last week by state lawmakers includes money to help prosecute some sexual assault cases. The $3 million allocation will go toward prosecutions that stem from testing old rape kits.

More than 11,000 unprocessed rape kits were found in an abandoned Detroit Police crime lab in 2009. Since then, Michigan State Police and county prosecutors have struggled to process the backlog. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office will get to divvy up those funds.

“The appropriation calls for us to develop a plan for how the money will be spent, and that’s what we’re working on right now,” said office spokeswoman Joy Yearout. Yearout said there was no formal deadline for submitting that plan, but the office is “fast-tracking” the process.

The current fiscal year’s budget included $4 million to help speed the process of testing those rape kits. “The next step will be investigation and prosecution that will result from that testing,” said Yearout.

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Politics & Government
9:26 pm
Sat June 14, 2014

Columbus Day name change issue removed from agenda

The federal Columbus Day holiday was established to commemorate Christopher Columbus' arrival in the Americas in 1492.

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - A Traverse City commissioner has pulled from Monday's agenda a resolution to rename Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples Day.

The Traverse City Record-Eagle reports  Commissioner Jim Carruthers agreed to sponsor the resolution, but says it's not ready for a vote.

The resolution was requested by American Indian activist group Idle No More Michigan.

Carruthers says he wants to give Idle No More organizers more time to get a resolution of support from the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians.

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Politics & Government
5:16 pm
Sat June 14, 2014

Detroit announces settlement with largest union

Terms of the bondholder deal also weren't released. Mediators say details "are in the final documentation process" and that the creditors are companies that either hold or insure a large majority of limited-tax general obligation bonds.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Detroit has announced settlements with its largest union and a group of unsecured bondholders.

Mediators said Friday the bankrupt city completed a series of tentative agreements with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 25.

In a statement, AFSCME Council 25 President Al Garrett says the deals represent "the best path forward for city employees and retirees."

The Detroit Free Press reports that terms of the union agreements weren't released.

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Politics & Government
11:59 am
Sat June 14, 2014

Flint's budget process: meaningless or transitional?

The proposed Flint city budget would eliminate 55 public safety positions.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Some Flint city council members and residents are expressing frustration with the way the city’s emergency manager is handling the creation of next year’s budget.

“We deserve better,” said one of the dozens of Flint residents who turned out for a public hearing on the proposed two-year city budget Monday night. 

The plan includes eliminating 36 police positions and 19 firefighter jobs. The budget also calls for raising Flint’s already high water and sewer rates by 6% a year for each of the next two years.

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