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Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

What caused the Flint water crisis? Rick Sadler from Michigan State University argues the true cause of Flint's water disaster goes back decades.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

What really caused the Flint water crisis?

The obvious and well-known answer is the April 2014 decision to start drawing the city's drinking water from the Flint River. That, in turn, caused corrosion in the city's lead water pipes, which caused lead to leach into the water.

Others point to Governor Rick Snyder's appointment of an emergency manager to control Flint's affairs. That happened in late 2011.

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Michigan State University public health expert and urban geographer Rick Sadler argues the true cause of Flint's water disaster goes back decades.

The new president, Congress and state Legislature still haven’t been sworn in but Campaign 2018 is already underway.

Former state Senator Gretchen Whitmer is the “first” candidate to launch a 2018 campaign for governor of Michigan. Whitmer is a Democrat who spent more than a dozen years in the state Legislature before being term-limited out in 2014.

Michigan's Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) has wrongly accused tens of thousands of people of cheating on their unemployment claims.
Bytemarks / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Thousands in Michigan were wrongfully accused of unemployment fraud through the state's automated claims system. Now, the director of the Unemployment Insurance Agency has been reassigned.

This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about the long road to get things back in order at the UIA. They also talk about Gov. Snyder's emergency declaration in Macomb County and U.S. attorney Patrick Miles Jr.'s decision to step down from his post in Michigan's Western District.

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Homes on Eberlein Rd. in Fraser were still restricted access on Friday. Most families displaced by the sinkhole should be able to move back next week.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Governor Snyder has declared a state of emergency for Macomb County, following a sewer collapse and sinkhole in Fraser on Christmas Eve.

The declaration should open up more state funding for fixing the sinkhole, which will likely run into the tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars.

Michigan Hall of Justice
Phillip Hofmeister / Creative Commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Michigan Supreme Court has named a new chief justice.

Justices unanimously chose Stephen Markman Friday as the new chief. He'll succeed Chief Justice Robert Young, who's held the job since 2011.

Markman was first appointed to the court in 1999 and re-elected in later years.

In a statement issued by the court, Markman says his primary responsibility is to make sure the system of justice is "made readily and fairly available to all."

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The new Michigan Legislature convenes for its first day of the session next Wednesday. What can we expect in 2017?

Ken Sikkema, a senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants and a former Republican legislative leader, joined Stateside for our weekly political roundup and looked ahead to what he expects to be a "more conservative" House of Representatives in Lansing.

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stabenow.senate.gov

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow says she will not support Betsy DeVos as the next head of the Department of Education. 

In an interview with the Detroit Free Press, Stabenow said that the two women met yesterday ahead of DeVos' confirmation hearing next Wednesday.

The Ambassador Bridge could have a new neighbor (the Gordie Howe International Bridge) by early 2022.
Michael Carian / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The owners of the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit are suing Governor Snyder and the Michigan Department of Transportation over the proposed new Gordie Howe International Bridge.

Former Attorney General Mike Cox is representing the plaintiffs.

The lawsuit claims only the state legislature is authorized to approve a new international bridge, and since the legislature didn't do so, the agreement between the Snyder administration and Canada (which is paying the entire cost) is illegal.

A spokeswoman for the governor says, "We disagree, and we are proceeding as planned."

U.S. Supreme Court

Many would consider arguing a case before the U.S. Supreme Court to be the pinnacle of a lawyer’s career. For lawyers facing that opportunity, a new study offers advice.

In a nutshell: don’t get flashy and don’t try to tug on “judicial heartstrings” when writing briefs for the big case.

Michigan's Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) has wrongly accused tens of thousands of people of cheating on their unemployment claims.
Bytemarks / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The director of Michigan's Unemployment Insurance Agency has been reassigned after at least 20,000 people were wrongly accused of fraud by the agency's automated system.

Talent Investment Agency Director Wanda Stokes said Thursday that UIA Director Sharon Moffett-Massey will now work on special projects.

Bruce Noll, TIA's legislative liaison, will serve as acting assistant director of the unemployment agency during a search for a new director to replace Moffett-Massey.

Lopez: "[Immigration] raids affect all sorts of relationships. Relationships between individuals, between family members, between Latino communities and white communities, and also between immigrant and Latino communities and local police departments."
J J / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

As he campaigned for the presidency, one of Donald Trump's most consistent messages was aimed at undocumented immigrants. At one point, he promised a deportation force to remove all undocumented immigrants.

That message helped get him elected.

It remains to be seen what will actually come to pass once Mr. Trump takes office in two weeks, but the increased possibility of immigration raids is out there.

Top federal prosecutor for Western Michigan to resign

Jan 5, 2017
Patrick Miles, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan.
Office of US Attorney, Western District, MI

Patrick Miles, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan, has announced that he will step down from office on Inauguration Day, January 20th.

Miles was appointed by President Barak Obama in 2012.

He is the first African-American to have held the position of U.S. Attorney in Michigan's Western District.

The office covers 49 counties, including Michigan's entire Upper Peninsula.

Miles said protection of the vulnerable has been one of his top priorities.

The sinkhole in Macomb County.
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

A massive sinkhole in central Macomb County is “an incredibly large challenge” with a “potentially incredibly expensive fix,” Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller said Wednesday.

Stateside 1.4.2017

Jan 4, 2017

Today, Gretchen Whitmer explains why she became the first candidate to announce a run for governor in 2018. And, we hear about a police re-training program focusing on a mentality shift for officers: from warrior to guardian.

A 2015 survey found that many police agencies devote significantly more time to firearms training than de-escalation techniques.
Flickr - Oregon Department of Transportation / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

When police officers are faced with potentially dangerous situations, the initial reaction is often to draw their weapon. 

That, after all, is what their training suggests they do: A 2015 survey of training curriculum at more than 280 police agencies found that the typical agency devoted 58 hours to firearms training and 49 hours to defensive tactics, compared with 10 to communication and just eight to de-escalation.

This type of training, and the warrior mentality it creates, has been at the root of deadly confrontations between police and the people they're arresting in recent years.

And in a report by a presidential task force on policing, one of the primary recommendations was a change in training techniques in order to shift the mentality of officers from warrior to guardian.

flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The 2017 year is just a few days old, and we're already looking ahead to 2018.

In Michigan, that will mean a new governor to replace term-limited Rick Snyder.

On Tuesday, Democrat Gretchen Whitmer became the first candidate to step forward into the ring. The former Senate minority leader filed the paperwork with the Secretary of State which allows her to set up a committee to run for governor.

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

Ford changed gears yesterday, with an announcement that it's canceled plans for a new factory in Mexico and will instead invest $700 million in its Flat Rock plant in Michigan. This Week in Michigan Politics, Morning Edition host Doug Tribou and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about whether pressure from President-elect Donald Trump influenced that decision.

They also talk about former state Senator Gretchen Whitmer's announcement that she plans to run for governor of Michigan in 2018, and new Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller's response to the massive sinkhole in the city of Fraser. 


http://whitmer.senatedems.com/

Former state Senator Gretchen Whitmer is the first candidate to formally announce that she will run for governor of Michigan in 2018. The former Senate Democratic leader sent an e-mail today declaring her plans.

The job will be open because Michigan’s term limits do not allow Republican Governor Rick Snyder to run again.

Whitmer may have competition for the Democratic nomination as Congressman Dan Kildee weighs a bid. On the Republican side, Attorney General Bill Schuette and Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley are potential candidates. 

Stateside 1.3.2017

Jan 3, 2017

Today, we talk about gerrymandering and how it contributes to polarization of our political system. And, we hear how some researchers turn to biological evolution for clues to improve artificial intelligence.

Saeed Khan, a lecturer at Wayne State University, wrote an article comparing blanket assessments of Trump supporters to the false equivalency sometimes made between Muslims and terrorists.
Photo courtesy of Saeed Khan

Since Donald Trump was elected to be the 45th President of the United States, the reactions, both for and against, have been forceful. 

Many Americans are afraid of life under President Trump, based on campaign messages that regularly targeted people based on religion, gender, ethnicity, and race.

And they wonder: why would someone vote for a candidate whose rhetoric was so often hateful?

One possible conclusion is that those who did vote for Trump must share those hateful views.

Saeed Khan, a lecturer at Wayne State University who also teaches a course on Muslim-Christian diversity at Rochester College, is encouraging a more measured view.

J. Albert Bowden II / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

In March of 1812, the Boston Gazette printed a political cartoon that showed the bizarre and twisted shape of a newly-redrawn election district.

The paper was responding to redistricting of the Massachusetts state Senate districts pushed through by Governor Elbridge Gerry. The redistricting certainly benefited the governor's Democratic-Republican Party.

Al Pscholka
Michigan House Republicans

LANSING, Mich. - Gov. Rick Snyder has chosen a former top state lawmaker to be Michigan's next budget director.

Al Pscholka chaired the House Appropriations Committee in 2015 and 2016 but left office under term limits. He will take over the budget office in mid-February when John Roberts leaves for a job with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

Pscholka, a Republican from Stevensville in southwestern Michigan, will be Snyder's third budget director.

Michigan State Capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

It is now a new year. With the State House and Senate adjourned until Jan. 11, it's time to get our bearings on what’s likely to be bubbling away on Lansing’s front burner this year.

Michigan Radio’s It’s Just Politics team of Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta joined Stateside to discuss.

John M. Cropper / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Governor Rick Snyder is expected to make a decision soon on changes to Michigan’s veterans’ homes.  

Before the end of session, the Legislature sent him a package of bills that would create a new Veterans Authority. It could create more veterans homes in the state – currently there are only two. The authority would be run by a board and they would be required to give annual reports to the governor and Legislature. 

Bill sponsor Sen. Dave Hildenbrand, R-Lowell, said the legislation creates a modern authority with people who understand healthcare. 

user cedarbenddrive/Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Governor Rick Snyder says he’s ready to work with President-elect Donald Trump once he takes office later this month.

      

Governor Snyder says Trump has not responded to his congratulations messages, but he has heard from the transition team.  Snyder and Trump both share the experience of being business people without prior experience running for office.

Snyder says Trump needs to understand that governing is different than campaigning. And, Snyder says the chief executive needs to respect that most government workers know what they’re doing.

Construction near the site of the sinkhole on the Fraser-Clinton Township border in Macomb County. Crews are now working on a temporary bypass around the collapsed sewer interceptor.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Temporary fixes are starting to take shape for those affected by a giant Macomb County sinkhole.

The sinkhole opened up in Fraser on Christmas Eve. It was caused by a collapsed sewer interceptor that serves more than 300,000 people in 11 Macomb County communities.

Fraser Mayor Joe Nichols says he’s “grateful there was no loss of life.” But there are three families who will lose their homes permanently, and at least 19 others that suffered damage.

House Democrats

“Well, that was fast.”

That’s how twenty-two year-old Lauren Plawecki began her farewell speech a few weeks ago.

Plawecki took over for her mother after she passed away suddenly in June. Plawecki says she took the position in part to finish some of the work her mother started.

“I knew that she had a lot of things in the works,” she said. “I mean I was there when she was working on them, I wanted to be the person that could see them across the finish line.”

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - It was an expensive year for Gov. Rick Snyder and lawmakers who spent hundreds of millions of dollars to address Flint's water emergency and to rescue Detroit's school district from massive debt.

  Legislators also authorized higher speed limits and allowed the testing of self-driving cars on public roads without a driver or steering wheel. Other top laws include new medical marijuana regulations and the authorization of higher speed limits on rural highways.

Wikimedia Commons

A broad group of civil rights advocates is cheering an Obama Administration decision this week to dismantle the National Security Entry-Exit Registration system (NSEERS).

That U.S. Homeland Security program required visiting males from 25 countries—nearly all of them Muslim-majority countries--to register with the U.S. government, providing background and other information beyond what’s normally required for a visa.

CREDIT WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - An event marking the 10th anniversary of former President Gerald Ford's death is taking place in western Michigan.

Officials say friends and family will participate in placing flowers at Ford's tomb on Monday at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids.

Ford's son, Michael Ford, says in a statement that he and his siblings "will prayerfully and privately remember the many good times" with Ford and former first lady Betty Ford. He also thanked everyone offering thoughts on his father's death.

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