Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

A Flint water protest.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Today was the last day for Flint residents to register to vote in next month’s mayoral election. 

But some people in Flint don’t want to wait for a change at city hall.

Chanting “Walling gotta go,” a small group of protesters marched in a circle outside Flint city hall. 

Boggs Center

Philosopher, activist, and writer Grace Lee Boggs has died at her home on the east side of Detroit. She was 100.

Over the past 70-plus years, she played roles in most of the major social movements this country has known: labor, civil rights, Black Power, women's rights, and environmental justice.

It’s hard to sum up the life of someone who kept changing. But that was Grace Lee Boggs. At different times in her life, she was a Marxist, a socialist, a Black Power advocate, and feminist. 

Robert Scott / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Michigan Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, this week introduced legislation that would get rid of health benefits for domestic partners of state employees.

Right now, domestic partners may apply for benefits as long as they live together.

Under the bill, public employers would be banned from offering domestic partner benefits.

With the hand-wringing over what appears to be short-term, hasty-decision-making in Flint (the move by a state-appointed emergency manager to try and save money by breaking away from Detroit’s water system and to, instead, pull water from the the highly corrosive Flint River), the city’s water crisis has now become a political crisis as well.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Round two of what’s become known as the “world’s largest municipal property auction” starts this week.

That would be Wayne County’s annual tax foreclosure auction.

More than 26,000 properties remain after the auction’s first round last month, when just over 2,000 properties sold.

Former Michigan Representatives Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat.
From Courser/Gamrat websites

LANSING, Mich. - Two conservative ex-lawmakers who had an extramarital affair and attempted to conceal it have been sued by former aides. 

The Detroit News and MLive.com report former state Reps. Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat were sued Friday by Keith Allard and Ben Graham in Ingham County Circuit Court. 

Many media outlets are livestreaming the press conference. Here is MDEQ Director Dan Wyant speaking at a podium with a "taking action" sign affixed.
screen grab / MLive UStream

Researchers found elevated lead levels in Flint's drinking water, and pediatricians found that the water was likely poisoning some kids in the city. Today, the state revealed that it too had tested kids and their findings seem to be consistent.

Dr. Eden Wells, the state's chief medical executive, said that before the city switched to Flint River water, kids' lead levels in two "high risk" zip codes were 2.7 times higher than the rest of Genesee County. Now they're 3.2 times higher - a statistically significant difference.

One of the things I most dislike about most politicians is their unwillingness to admit when they’ve screwed up.

Take Dennis Williams, the leader of the United Auto Workers union. He and his lieutenants were so out of touch with the membership that they negotiated a contract that the angry workers rejected by almost two to one.

Yesterday, when the results were in, Williams said. “We don’t consider this a setback,” we consider this “part of the process.”

Kevin Rosseel / morguefile

Michigan would release more inmates on parole under bills approved by the state House on Thursday.

The legislation would guarantee release for many prisoners who’ve served their minimum sentences and are deemed unlikely to re-offend. It does not apply to inmates currently behind bars.

Researchers at Virginia Tech received samples of Flint water (both clear and discolored) from residents.
Flint Water Study / Facebook

Yesterday, Gov. Rick Snyder admitted that the decision to switch the city of Flint's water supply from Detroit's system over to the Flint River was not well planned.

“In terms of a mistake, what I would say is, is there are probably things that were not as fully understood as when that switch was made,” Snyder said.

Today on Stateside:

First Lady Edith Wilson acted as de facto President of the United States for over a year after her husband's stroke
Library of Congress / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

One of the big questions of the 2016 presidential race is whether we’ll finally see a woman in the White House.

But there’s a little-known secret that’s finally coming to light: It wouldn’t be the first time a woman has run the country.

From late 1919 until March 1921, first lady Edith Galt Wilson was the de facto president of the United States.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A Michigan Senate bill that would ban "sanctuary city" ordinances, which protect people living in the U.S. illegally, is drawing opposition from some lawmakers.

The proposed bill would prohibit city policies that discourage local law enforcement officials from questioning an individual's immigration status.

Courser website

Fourteen candidates to fill an open Michigan House seat are scheduled to appear at a debate Friday evening in Lapeer County, including the man who resigned the seat.

Todd Courser stepped down near the end of a marathon session as House members debated expelling him over allegations he used his office to cover up a romantic affair with another state lawmaker. An hour later, the House voted to expel State Rep. Cindy Gamrat, R-Plainwell, with whom Courser had a romantic relationship.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Fewer and fewer people are paying their water bills in Flint. 

Flint’s water bill collections are down by $1.75 million since a judge issued an injunction in August rolling back rates and ordering an end to disconnections.


Governor Rick Snyder acknowledges the decision to switch the city of Flint’s water system was not vetted the way it should have been. The city faces a crisis now that the water going to homes is contaminated by lead.

“In terms of a mistake, I would say is there are probably things that were not as fully understood as when that switch was made,” he said.


Today on Stateside:

Frank Kelley
Detroit Free Press

Frank Kelley is a man of the people and a true public servant.

He became both the youngest and oldest Attorney General in Michigan's history, serving for 37 years. He worked with seven presidents and five Michigan governors, acted to touch the lives of everyone in our state, and bowed out gracefully without a whiff of scandal or disrepute in all that time in office.

His story is told in the new book The People’s Lawyer: The Life and Times of Frank J. Kelley, the Nation’s Longest-Serving Attorney General.

Adam Gerard / Flickr Creative Commons - http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Three of the top five most-violent cities in America are in Michigan, according to new FBI statistics released Monday.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A new report estimates it will cost the city of Flint $1.5 billion to repair the damage done since the switch to the Flint River as a water source.

Researchers from Virginia Tech based their estimate on the tests of the corrosiveness of the Flint River.

The researchers say the corrosiveness is “eating away” iron pipes, aging the system by more than 11.5 years in just the last 16 months.

The Detroit City Council
Michigan United

The Detroit City Council voted Tuesday to restore full power to the city's board of police commissioners.

The civilian police oversight board was stripped of its power while Detroit was under emergency management in 2013.

Prior to that, the board had the final say in matters of employee discipline and played a role in shaping department policies and procedures.

Today on Stateside:

People moving from Syria into Turkey.
European Commission DG ECHO

Gov. Rick Snyder says he’d like Michigan to welcome more refugees fleeing war and violence in the Middle East.

The governor told the new Michigan Commission on Middle Eastern American Affairs he’s already been in touch with the federal government.


Governor Snyder says the state is “working hard” and doing its best to resolve Flint’s water issues. 

Recent tests have raised alarms about high lead levels in city water — and in some Flint children’s blood. 

Snyder wouldn't offer specifics about possible action, but he will soon.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint officials are seriously looking at returning to Detroit water.

City Administrator Natasha Henderson is talking with the different groups needed to make the switch back to the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department.

 Today on Stateside:

The Michigan presidential primary is underway. And by that we really mean that the ‘endorsements primary’ is underway.

You’ve got a friend

With 162 days until Michigan voters decide who they want to be their Republican and Democratic presidential candidates, the focus right now is really on the Republican side of things. 

The Detroit City Council is expected to vote on a medical pot shop ordinance in the coming weeks.

It would create zoning, licensing, and inspection guidelines for marijuana dispensaries.

The ordinance has been introduced, and is going through the Council's committee process.

Michigan Legislature
Michigan Municipal League

Jennifer White was joined by Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, to take a look at Michigan politics.

This week, they discussed whether there were any lingering effects of the scandal involving former Reps. Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat. They also took a look at the issues the legislature is likely to tackle this session, including funding for roads.

Here's their conversation:

Today on Stateside:

  • Volkswagen cheated and lied to its customers by tricking the EPA. Heads are already rolling, but Daniel Howes says this isn’t even the end of the beginning.
  • Migrant, immigrant and seasonal workers have been the backbone of West Michigan’s agriculture industry for decades, and now efforts are being made to collect and celebrate the Hispanic community’s oral histories.