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Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

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.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

“Cavalier." That’s how one group is describing the state of Michigan’s response to the latest attempt to force bottled water delivery to Flint homes.

Several groups, along with Flint residents, want the state and city to deliver bottled water to Flint homes without a working water filter.

Last month, a federal judge ordered home water deliveries.  And last week, an Appeals Court rejected the state’s request to put the order on hold.

Courtesy: St. Louis Public Radio

Racial tensions between white people and people of color are reaching levels not seen since the 1960s and ‘70s.

Crack in a sidewalk.
user Derek Bridges / Flickr - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Michigan’s trial lawyers are urging Governor Rick Snyder to veto a bill they say will make it harder to sue cities and towns for injuries from uneven sidewalks.

Tom Waun is the president of the Michigan Association for Justice.  

He says the bill would put plaintiffs in a ‘Catch-22’. They wouldn’t be able to sue if they trip on a crack less than 2 inches in height.  But if the crack is more than two inches, the law finds they should have been able to see it and avoid tripping.   

Waun says that’s not fair.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Public Service Commission wants answers from Consumers Energy about its plan to end its agreement with Entergy Nuclear Palisades, LLC to buy electricity from the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant.

The plan would end the power purchase agreement about four years early and result in the permanent closure of the nuclear plant in October, 2018. 

The Commission is initiating a proceeding to make sure customers' energy needs will still be reliably met.

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

There was a story in the Windsor Star recently about delays to the new bridge project between Detroit and Windsor. Anne Jarvis from the Windsor Star joined Stateside after reporting the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority has more-or-less gone from building the Gordie Howe International Bridge to explaining why it isn’t being built yet.

On the Michigan side, Andy Doctoroff is the special project adviser to Governor Rick Snyder and he’s the point person on the Gordie Howe International Bridge. He joined Stateside to give the Michigan side of the story. 

The big question on everyone's mind on both sides of the border is when will this bridge be completed? 

Gov. Rick Snyder formed a workgroup that made 69 recommendations on how the state of Michigan should manage and improve its mental health care system. The question is, how many of those recommendations will be turned into actual policies?
gophouse.com

Early this year, Governor Rick Snyder sent shock waves through Michigan's mental health care community when his proposed 2017 budget included changes in who would control the purse strings.

The Governor proposed taking much of the $2.4 billion mental health care system and switching that from public mental health organizations to private HMOs (Health Maintenance Organizations).

A workgroup made up of state officials, mental health advocates, insurance industry representatives, state mental health providers, and others were formed to look at the issue.

Last week the group released a draft report that, in essence, saw the state reversing its course on shifting mental health funding, at least for now.

Marijuana plant.
user Coleen Whitfield / flickr

ST. JOHNS, Mich. - The Michigan appeals court says the state's medical marijuana law protects people who are accused of illegally transporting pot.

In a 2-1 decision, the court threw out the misdemeanor conviction of a man in Clinton County, north of Lansing.

Callen Latz is a registered medical marijuana user. But he was charged in 2014 with violating a law that requires pot to be stored in a case in the trunk of a vehicle or in a spot that's not easily accessible.

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

On Tuesday, State Attorney General Bill Schuette announced more criminal charges in the Flint water crisis, including charges against two former Flint emergency managers.

In this Week in Michigan Politics, Morning Edition host Doug Tribou and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss the latest round of indictments in Flint and a bill that will send the city $170 million in federal aid.

They also look at an alleged Voting Rights Act violation in the Macomb County city of Eastpointe and the completion of Detroit's three-year project to install 65,000 LED streetlights


Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The small Detroit suburb of Eastpointe is looking for public input as it stares down a potential lawsuit.

The U.S. Justice Department warned the city last month that the way it chooses city council members violates the Voting Rights Act.

The government says voting for council members at-large denies the city’s growing black community a voice in government.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Attorney General Bill Schuette today unveiled a new batch of criminal charges in the Flint water disaster.

Charged today are former Flint emergency managers Darnell Earley and Gerald Ambrose, along with Howard Croft, former director of Public Works in Flint, and Daugherty Johnson, former utilities director of Flint.

This brings the total number of people charged by Schuette to 13.

Wayne State University Law professor and former federal prosecutor Peter Henning joined Stateside today to break down the charges.

Traverse City.
Bernt Rostad / FLICKR - HTTP://MICHRAD.IO/1LXRDJM

Traverse City wants to get all its electricity for city operations from clean, renewable energy sources by 2020, according to a resolution passed unanimously by the City Commission on Monday.

The resolution calls for using wind, solar, geothermal, and landfill gas to meet 100% of its electricity needs for city buildings, operations, and street lights. 

According to City Commissioner Tim Werner, the city accounts for 3 to 4% of total electricity use in the Traverse City area.

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