Politics & Government

Politics & Government
5:39 pm
Sat June 28, 2014

New Michigan budget may affect you in many ways

Gov. Rick Snyder plans to finish signing the $53.2 billion spending plan as early as Monday. It affects many corners of Michigan life.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Schoolchildren and others will be impacted when Michigan's next state budget starts in about three months.

Gov. Rick Snyder plans to finish signing the $53.2 billion spending plan as early as Monday. It affects many corners of Michigan life - from how much it costs to attend college to increased arts funding and how many state troopers patrol the highways.

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It's Just Politics
6:01 pm
Fri June 27, 2014

Detroit Mayor gets a lot from Lansing in his first six months, but will it last?

It's Just Politics with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta

It's Just Politics with Zoe Clark Rick Pluta

It’s been almost six months since Mike Duggan took over as mayor of Detroit. He took over a city however, run by someone else: state-appointed Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr.

But, that doesn’t mean Duggan has been denied all the rites of passage of the job including the schlep to Lansing to ask the state Legislature for something. Every mayor has to do it. And Duggan had to go to Lansing with a really big ‘ask.’ We’re talking about the $195 million dollar rescue package for his city (that’s right, ‘rescue,’ ‘settlement.’ Just don’t call it a ‘bailout.’)

Getting the Republican-led state House and Senate to go along with sending almost $200 million dollars to a Democratically-controlled city was not an easy task.

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Politics & Government
5:37 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

Schauer says he’d push stricter regulations on charter schools as governor

Credit Facebook

Former Congressman Mark Schauer says he would put tougher regulations on charter schools if he’s elected governor. The Battle Creek Democrat says Gov. Rick Snyder has given bad charter operators a “free pass.”

“We need to write into law the oversight that was left out when Rick Snyder lifted the cap on the number of charter schools,” said Schauer. “It’s the Wild West right now, and these schools see kids with dollar signs on their foreheads.”

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4:55 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

Stateside for Thursday, June 26, 2014

Today on Stateside:

  • The United Nations has issued a statement calling Detroit’s mass water shutoff campaign a likely human rights violation. On today’s Stateside we talked with one of those groups appealing to the United Nations.
  • Some folks in Northern Michigan are getting tired of all the tourists and festivals taking over their towns. They say they just want some peace and quiet. But others argue the economic boom to small communities is just too good to pass up.
  • Producer and U of M student Arjun Singh talks about teaming up with local talent to make electronic pop with wide appeal on his new EP "The Drift."
  • We continue our weeklong look at how Detroit is doing under bankruptcy and Mayor Duggan's first  six months in office. Today we focused on the city's efforts to turn the streetlights back on.
  • As Ford CEO Alan Mulally steps down, Detroit News columnist Daniel Howes joined us today to talk about what Mullaly has built and how he created big shoes for his successor to fill.

*Listen to full show above.

4:52 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

Can Mayor Duggan make Detroit streets look brighter?

Credit Flickr user Molly Des Jardin

All week long, the Detroit Journalism Cooperative is examining how Detroit is doing under bankruptcy and the leadership of Mayor Mike Duggan.

We've looked at the mayor himself. We've also looked at blight, transportation, and the bus system.

Now we turn to a challenge that seemed to have caught the collective attention of writers and reporters around the world as they talk about Detroit's bankruptcy: the streetlights.

The fact that almost half the streetlights in Detroit didn't work became a sort of symbol of how "broken" the city had become.

Let's find out if things are looking brighter in the neighborhoods and streets of Detroit.

We were joined by Lester Graham of Michigan Watch.

*Listen to full interview above.

Weekly Political Roundup
4:39 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

Weekly Political Roundup: Detroit Mayor Duggan's first six months in office

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.
Credit Mike Duggan

The city of Detroit continues to work through bankruptcy, at the same time Mayor Mike Duggan, now six months into his term, has been working to return basic city services to residents in the city. 

Joining us today were Ken Sikkema, Former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants and Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics.

Detroit remains under the emergency management of Kevyn Orr, but Duggan really positioned himself as more of a chief operating officer when he was running for mayor. How much of what we see happening in the city is the result of efforts by Orr and how much of it is Duggan?

Listen to the full interview above.

Politics & Government
7:00 am
Thu June 26, 2014

Detroit water department defends shutoff campaign after UN criticism

Detroit Water and Sewerage Department Director Sue McCormick
Credit dwsd.org

The people who run Detroit’s water system faced fierce criticism Wednesday, after the United Nations issued a statement calling the city’s mass water shutoffs a possible human rights violation.

Critics lined up to blast officials at a Board of Water Commissioners meeting for ongoing efforts to cut off customers with unpaid bills.

Many cited the UN’s assertion that “when there is genuine inability to pay, human rights simply forbids disconnections.”

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Politics & Government
7:07 pm
Wed June 25, 2014

MEDC creates fund to leverage crowdsource money

Beautification projects could get a boost with a new state crowdfunding initiative.
Credit James Marvin Phelps / Flickr

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation has created a fund to help leverage more money for public beautification projects. It’s a partnership with a crowdsourcing website to help local governments raise funds for parks, sculptures, tree-planting and similar projects.

Mike Finney is the director of the MEDC. He says it’s a new way to attract private investments in public projects.

“It’s a great way to stretch our dollars much further than they would otherwise if this had to be a public sector project in and of itself,” Finney said.

The state will match up to $100,000 for approved projects raised through the website, crowdfundingmi.com. Finney says this is the first time that he’s heard of the public sector using crowdfunding to raise money for local beautification projects.  

3:07 pm
Wed June 25, 2014

Stateside for Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Today on Stateside:

  • We continue our week-long series looking at how Detroit is functioning under bankruptcy and the leadership of Mayor Duggan. Today's topic: transportation.
  • Looking for love in the UP? A new dating site has you covered: YooperSingles.com
  • A new film about Grace Lee Boggs will debut on the POV series on PBS. Its title: American Revolutionary: the Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs.
  • In the never-ending quest to improve transportation in Michigan, here's a question worth asking: how do you get from Detroit to Grand Rapids, the two largest metropolitan areas in the state?
  • And we ask: As we watch the Baby Boomers swell the ranks of America’s senior citizens, are cities and towns prepared for them?

*Listen to full show above. 

Politics & Government
8:32 am
Wed June 25, 2014

Education spending, charter schools and retirement plans make political headlines

Credit user jdurham / morguefile

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry and Christina Shockley discuss new investigations into charter schools, the new education spending bill and the impacts after the removal of state pension plans.

Week in Michigan politics interview for 6/25/14

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Politics & Government
6:59 am
Wed June 25, 2014

Gov. Snyder wants more transparency in spending by schools, but not charter companies

Credit gophouse.com

Governor Rick Snyder says he’s for more transparency in school spending, but he’s not ready to apply those standards to private companies that run charter schools.

A Detroit Free Press series on charter schools found, among other things, that private management companies that run charters are not required to explain how they spend state payments. Governor Snyder says he could support stricter disclosure requirements for all schools – not just charters – but not necessarily the private companies that run charter academies.

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Politics & Government
5:56 am
Wed June 25, 2014

Michigan puts prison food service company prisoners on notice: Get it together ... or else

Credit Kevin Rosseel / morguefile

Michigan’s Department of Corrections says problems with Aramark, the company that provides inmates their meals, have the potential to compromise safety and security in the state's prisons.

Food service was privatized at Michigan’s 31 prisons in December, saving roughly $16 million a year.

“Literally from a Saturday to a Sunday it transitioned to 360 contractor workers who, in many cases, had never been inside a correctional facility,” Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman Russ Marlan said. “So we expected some problems, we expected some issues.”

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Politics & Government
6:30 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

A "humanitarian crisis" at the U.S.-Mexico border

Credit gop.gov / gop.gov

At a congressional hearing today, Michigan congresswoman Candice Miller weighed in on the massive influx of unaccompanied children smuggled into the United States through the Mexican border. A situation Congress has called a "humanitarian crisis."  

More than 50,000 children have come across the border in the last year alone. About three-quarters come from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. These children are sent alone north through Mexico, usually by paying drug cartels huge sums of money.

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Politics & Government
5:52 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

Michigan economists warn against ending pensions for public employees

Credit user cedarbenddrive / Flickr

Some economists say Michigan failed to consider the consequences of ending pension plans for public workers.

The state stopped offering pensions to new employees in 1997. Budget officials say that decision has cut Michigan’s long-term debt by about $5 billion.

A new report from Great Lakes Economic Consulting says the new 401(k) style plans may be cheaper. But it says it’s not fair to compare them to traditional pensions, which provide better protections for both workers and employers.

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Newsmaker Interview
4:44 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

Detroit will continue to face major challenges even after bankruptcy

Credit Bob Jagendorf / Flickr


As the city of Detroit swiftly works its way through bankruptcy court there are some bright spots on the horizon. The state of Michigan, foundations and corporations are contributing millions of dollars to shore up city pensions and protect art held by the Detroit Institute of Arts. Mayor Mike Duggan is making strides to alleviate blight across the city. However, even in a best case scenario, what issues and challenges will the city continue to face even after the bankruptcy proceedings conclude?

Jennifer White, host of All Things Considered, speaks with Michigan State University Economist Eric Scorsone about the challenges facing the city of Detroit and the key systemic issues that the city must address.

Scorsone emphasizes that although there has been some recovery in the city, the challenges of the high unemployment rate, the big differences in the Detroit labor market when it comes to earnings of city residents compared to non-residents, upgrading the skill levels of city residents and the creation of jobs are issues that no one individual will be able to resolve alone, and will require cooperation from many agencies and non-profit organizations.

According to Scorsone, blight removal is an important step, but it is not necessarily the final solution. There needs to be major changes when it comes to land designated for certain uses such as housing, and stabilizing certain neighborhoods is imperative to the city’s future health. 

Listen to the full interview above.

--Omar Saadeh

Politics & Culture
4:43 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

Stateside for Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Today on Stateside:

  • 30% of Detroit's buildings are blighted. That’s upwards of 70,000 rundown and dilapidated properties. We continued our week-long series looking at how Detroit is functioning under bankruptcy.
  • It's the 20th season of the Michigan Shakespeare Festival. We found out about this year's productions and how they're trying to attract larger audiences.
  • The film incentive program got $50,000,000 for fiscal year 2015, signed into law this morning by Snyder.
  • Game of Thrones writer George R.R. Martin  was fundraising for a wildlife sanctuary and a food depot in his home state of New Mexico. For a $20,000 donation, Martin plans to use the donor's name in a future novel.
  • An aviation museum has signed an agreement to buy a piece of the Willow Run Bomber Plant in Ypsilanti, that's where the original Rosie the Riveter helped turn out B24 Liberator bombers in World War II.
  • EAA Chancellor John Covington has stepped down with a year left on his contract, which has led many to ask: what does this mean for the future of the EAA and what does it mean for the students at its 15 schools?

*Listen to full show above.

4:43 pm
Mon June 23, 2014

Stateside for Monday, June 23, 2014

Today on Stateside:

  • Mayor Mike Duggan challenged us to "watch what happens in six months' when he was sworn in. The six months is almost up and the Detroit Journalism Cooperative will take the mayor up on his offer.
  • The U.S. Justice Department is asking a judge to dismiss a lawsuit by the Detroit-area rap-metal duo Insane Clown Posse, which objects to a report that describes its fans as a dangerous gang.
  • Muskegon is ranked 82nd out of 82 in health behaviors. A health initiative called "1 in 21" is trying to change that.
  • A summer camp for adults is coming this summer to get adults excited about the great outdoors again. There is one catch: no smartphones. 
  • Minnesota is ranked the best economy in the Great Lakes region. What can Michigan learn from them?
  • A study shows overall poor health of patients on Medicaid, especially surgical patients.

*Listen to full show above.

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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