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Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

"Out of water" sign after Oakland County water main break
Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

Thousands of people in Oakland County are still dealing with a mandatory boil water advisory this weekend. It was issued after a broken water transmission main caused system pressure to drop, and then extended after another leak was detected. The CEO of the Great Lakes Water Authority called it an "unprecedented" event in the regional water system's history, but this Week in Review, senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry tells Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth why he wasn't surprised.

Today on Stateside, an author details the "ecological unraveling" of the Great Lakes. We also hear why Detroit was the "obvious choice" for the inaugural Women's Convention, and how state regulators could shift the medical marijuana industry to benefit some and keep others out. Also today, Sen. Gary Peters joins the show and says, "We can't just have an open blank check for military use around the world."

Marijuana plant
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

In Lansing, lobbyists, big business, and small caregivers are jockeying to influence rules for growing and dispensing medical marijuana.

At the same time, lawmakers are considering beating voters to the punch by approving recreational marijuana in a way that could be very business friendly.

Don Harder / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

​Some members of the Legislature want to eliminate the elected Michigan Board of Education. They say the Board of Education has become little more than a debating society. But, if it’s so irrelevant, one has to wonder why those legislators get so worked up about the education board’s actions.

Ken Sikkema, senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants and the former Republican majority leader in the state Senate, along with Vicki Barnett, the former mayor of Farmington Hills and a former Democratic legislator, joined Stateside to discuss the Board of Education.

COURTESY OF TASHMICA TOROK

The organizers of the Women's March are holding the inaugural Women's Convention at the Cobo Center in Detroit. It starts today and runs through the weekend.

Phoebe Hopps, a Michigan coordinator of the Women's March, said Detroit was an "obvious choice" for the convention.

Senate Democrats / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

With the controversy surrounding President Donald Trump’s call to a grieving military widow, lost in many of the conversations was where the soldier actually was stationed. He was in Niger, a landlocked country in western Africa with over 20 million citizens. Few Americans knew the U.S. military had any presence there.

Senators still have unanswered questions. The U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee was briefed by two top Pentagon officials about U.S. military presence in West Africa.

Hopeful applicants in Leoni Township plan to camp out for nearly a week for the chance to apply for a medical marijuana dispensary license.
Paulette Parker / Michigan Radio

A group of hopeful applicants plan to camp out for nearly a week for the chance to apply for a medical marijuana dispensary license.

Cars, trucks, and an RV are already lined up outside the Leoni Township Hall, just outside Jackson. The township will begin taking applications for medical marijuana dispensary licenses November 1.

Flickr/jnn1776 / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Arab-American Civil Rights League is speaking out against legislation that would ban local governments in Michigan from using revenues to "specifically support or otherwise assist" undocumented immigrants.

Under HB 5053, residents of municipalities that don't comply within 60 days would be able to sue or file a complaint about their local government with the state attorney general.

Today on Stateside, the state agriculture chief warns against scrapping NAFTA, and the only female wrestler at UM Dearborn explains why she's fighting for a chance to compete against men. Also today, we recap Detroit's only mayoral debate with one of the panelists who questioned the candidates last night.

University of Michigan Professor Rosina Bierbaum says scandals like Flint's water crisis have eroded public trust in the safety of drinking water
Courtesy of Raiz Up

There's a political and legal battle happening over Flint's drinking water.

U.S. District Judge David Lawson ordered Flint's City Council to choose a long-term source of drinking water, scolding the council for taking so long to green light the city's deal with the Great Lakes Water Authority.

The Council punted this week, okaying a short-term deal with the GLWA. But the tug of war between Flint's Mayor Karen Weaver, the council, the state, and Judge Lawson continues.

State Sen. Coleman Young II and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, during their debate broadcast from WDIV-TV's Detroit studios.
WDIV

Detroit’s one and only debate between its two mayoral candidates got very contentious last night, with plenty of personal attacks.

(You can watch the full debate here.)

State Senator Coleman Young II is the underdog challenger. Young said he’s running to help struggling Detroiters who’ve faced water shutoffs, losing homes to tax foreclosure, and various forms of what Young called “racist redlining.”

Michigan broadband bill is dead, for now

Oct 25, 2017
Kevin Jump / Flickr Creative Commons HTTP://MICHRAD.IO/1LXRDJM

The bill would have blocked local governments from using federal, state or local money to provide internet services. The only exception would have been if it's done through private-public partnerships.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Michele Hoitenga, R-Manton, would not comment on why she is not moving the bill forward. She is the chair of the House Communications and Technology Committee, to which the bill had been referred.

Mayor Mike Duggan, and state Sen. Coleman Young II
courtesy of Bridge Magazine, and State Dems

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan debated his challenger for the upcoming November 7 general election, state Sen. Coleman Young II.

Governor Rick Snyder
Rick Snyder for Michigan / Facebook Page

The ranking Democrat on the U.S. House Oversight Committee wants to subpoena Governor Rick Snyder. Rep. Elijah Cummins, D-Maryland, says the governor has not been forthcoming about when he first knew about a fatal outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in Genesee County.

From Cummins’ letter to committee chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC):

sunrise fishing on Lake Huron
U.S. Department of the Interior

A new study says African-American kids in Michigan fare worse than children of color anywhere else in the country when it comes to education and other benchmarks. Some advocates say that means it’s time to start acknowledging we need policies that give extra help to minority children.

Michigan Radio's "Morning Edition" host Doug Tribou and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss what that approach might look like.

flint mayor karen weaver
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint's mayor is rejecting the city council’s proposed solution to the city’s future drinking water needs.

Monday night, the Flint city council approved a two-year extension of its current temporary contract with the Great Lakes Water Authority.  

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver says she does “not believe a two-year extension is a viable solution.” 

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Detroit residents will soon vote for mayor, city council, and other offices. What do they want for the future of the city? The MorningSide neighborhood reflects the rest of the city well. So, how well do the priorities of the residents align with the candidates vying to represent them on city council?

Actually, they align surprisingly well. We talked with a dozen residents of MorningSide. One of their top concerns was abandoned houses.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Flint city council is proposing a possible solution to the city’s long-term tap water needs, or at least a longer short-term solution.

Last night, city council members voted to extend Flint’s current temporary contract with the Great Lakes Water Authority by two years. GLWA has been supplying Flint’s water for two years already.

Gov. Snyder, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, and other leaders kicking off the Great Lakes Governors and Premiers summit in Windsor, Ont.
Conference of Great Lakes Governors and Premiers

Leaders from six Great Lakes states and two Canadian provinces met in Detroit over the weekend to discuss trade, environmental protection, infrastructure and other shared regional issues.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The Flint city council is getting a little more time to consider where the city’s drinking water should come from.

A federal judge had ordered the city council to make a decision on a future water source by today.     But that deadline has slipped.

U.S. District Judge David Lawson is giving attorneys for the state and Flint city council until tomorrow to respond to a motion filed Sunday by the council seeking a delay.

Governor Rick Snyder’s election seven years ago was supposed to represent the political triumph of “economic gardening,” the idea that government doesn’t offer big incentives to land big companies and, thus, pick winners and losers.

Instead, the idea goes, economic gardening works to create an overall environment that allows businesses and startups to grow organically. The benefits are supposed to be fairness to both small and large businesses and that tax breaks and incentives are more across the board.

Marijuana plant
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The city of Lansing will enact a recently-passed medical marijuana ordinance after a petition to repeal it failed to get enough valid signatures.

Lansing City Council approved the ordinance in early September. It caps the number of permitted marijuana dispensaries in the city at 25 and requires operation licenses for all establishments.

Petition organizers hoped to get enough signatures to either repeal the ordinance or have it submitted to voters as a ballot proposal.

Chris Swope is Lansing City Clerk. He says many signatures were invalidated because some people signed the petition as many as three times.

Michigan State Police patrol vehicle shield
Michigan State Police

The director of the Michigan State Police will work five days without pay. That's the penalty Gov. Rick Snyder gave Col. Kriste Etue for sharing a Facebook post that called NFL players who kneel during the National Anthem "degenerates." Snyder also ordered all state departments to ensure their policies promote diversity and inclusiveness. This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about whether the punishment will be enough for those who've called for Etue's resignation.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

November 7, Flint voters go to the polls to decide a recall election against the city’s mayor.  But few voters seem interested in learning more about the large field of candidates on the ballot.

pixabay.com

Gov. Rick Snyder has suspended Michigan State Police’s Colonel Kriste Etue’s pay for five days. But activists continue to call for her removal.

Members of the liberal group Progress Michigan delivered a petition to Governor Rick Snyder’s office. It was signed by almost 85,000 people across the United States.

This comes after Etue shared a meme on Facebook that called NFL players who kneel during the National Anthem “degenerates.” Etue apologized.

State Rep. Leslie Love, D-Detroit, says the Colonel should still be removed from her position.

An empty big box store - a former K-Mart in Grand Blanc Michigan
Michigan Municipal League

Local governments in Michigan have won a major victory in a property tax fight with big box stores.

Millions of dollars in revenue for local governments – or tax savings for big box stores – are at stake.

In this case, now three years old, the retailer Menards wanted a property it had vacated in Escanaba to be taxed as closed and empty. But Menard’s property deed says it cannot be sold for a similar use, making it nearly impossible to redevelop.

The city said that’s not fair, and wants to tax it for its most-valuable use, including retail.

michigan state capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Senate has approved a plan to give local tax dollars to charter schools. It would require any millage for intermediate school districts to be distributed to both public schools and privately-owned charter schools. Four Republican Senators voted against this, as did all of the Democrats.

As part of its weekly political roundup, Stateside broke down the issue with Ken Sikkema, a senior policy fellow with Public Sector Consultants and a former Republican majority leader, and Vicki Barnett, a former mayor of Farmington Hills and a former Democratic legislator.

Flickr/lavocado

A battle is shaping up over two Detroit ballot proposals on medical marijuana, and things got pretty heated between supporters and opponents of the measures Thursday.

A group of City Council members, pastors, and community activists held a press conference to urge “no” votes on the two ballot questions next month. But a few pro-medical cannabis activists showed up too, with the two sides exchanging impromptu jabs at times.

Flint water plant
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Flint City Council meets in executive session Friday to discuss its options now that a federal judge is ordering the council to decide on the city’s long-term source of drinking water by Monday.

It’s a decision that’s not only tethered to the city’s ongoing water troubles but to its contentious politics.

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