Politics & Government

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.

Stateside
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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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.

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