Politics & Government

International Politics & Government/
5:42 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

Remembering Tiananmen Square: Tom Watkins reflects on events

Tienanmen Square in 1988.
Credit Derzsi Elekes Andor / Wikimedia Commons

Tom Watkins was on his first trip to China shortly before the People's Liberation Army turned on the people of China, killing an unknown number of pro-democracy protesters in Beijing.

Watkins says the most defining moment of the trip for him was when a Chinese student asked him to describe democracy.

“I felt really inadequate to describe what we take for granted,” Watkins said. “It felt like trying to tell somebody who had never experienced freedom and democracy what it is like to wake up in the morning and start to breathe.”

Watkins was not in China on June 4, 1989, but he did watch the student-led uprising happen, and he recalls seeing the face of a lone man who defiantly blocked a column of tanks in Tiananmen Square.

“I wondered at that time if he was ever going to have his question answered in his own way in his own country,” Watkins said.

Now, 25 years later, Watkins is the president and CEO of the Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority. He has spent years traveling between the United States and China campaigning for stronger economic and social ties between the two countries.

Watkins said it is the most important relationship in the world. He said China may surpass the United States as early as this year as the world’s largest economy.

However, there are rising tensions between the two countries. Watkins said the United States’ relationship with China is critical.

*Listen to full interview above.

– Bre'Anna Tinsley, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Politics & Government
5:38 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

The "grand bargain" moves ahead, but it's not a done deal yet

Credit gophouse.com

Gov. Rick Snyder says he will sign bills giving almost $200 million to Detroit’s bankruptcy settlement, after the state Senate approved the measures yesterday.

Rick Pluta is the Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network.

He spoke with Stateside, and said the grand bargain is not a done deal. The game changer he said, is Judge Gerald Rosen.

Rosen explained the deal to lawmakers, saying the numbers were not just random. Although some Republicans still voted against most of the bills, Pluta said the explanation gave Republicans enough comfort to pass the bargain on.

Pluta said there is a possibility of a lawsuit by the city's pensioners. If the deal fails , the state could end up in court, and if they lose, the state could be held accountable for the money the pensioners lost.

Also, Steven Henderson, editorial page editor for the Detroit Free Press, spoke with Stateside. He said Gov. Snyder will sign the bill, but it’s only one part of the whole puzzle.

Henderson said the only thing left is the vote of the pensioners. Henderson said pensioners are still on the edge of their decision, and many are still not excited about taking a cut. 

*Listen to full interview above. 

- Bre'Anna Tinsley, Michigan Radio Newsroom.

Politics & Government
5:29 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

Grand Rapids City Commission proposes changes to panhandling laws

Credit BrokenSphere / Wikimedia Commons

Last September, the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a law that made panhandling a criminal misdemeanor, saying it trampled on the rights of free speech.

Police in Grand Rapids made vigorous use of that now-overturned law, arresting hundreds of people over the years for panhandling.

With the state law overturned, Grand Rapids and other cities have been trying to figure out how to keep a lid on aggressive panhandling, while still respecting the constitutional right to free speech.

Last night, the Grand Rapids City Commission discussed proposed changes to local panhandling ordinances.

Michigan Radio's West Michigan reporter Lindsey Smith, and the American Civil Liberty Union's Miriam Auckerman talked to Stateside about what happened during the meeting.

Smith said the city of Grand Rapids was set to vote on local laws that deal with time, manner, and place restrictions.

The main agreement within the commission is that panhandling next to streets or on street corners can get dangerous. 

*Listen to full interview above.

Politics & Government
5:20 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

Someone give this guy a gold star: Congressman Amash marks 2,500 consecutive votes

Michigan Congressman Justin Amash.
Credit Facebook

Michigan Congressman Justin Amash never gets sick. His car never breaks down and he doesn't take off work for doctor's appointments.

OK, that’s probably an exaggeration.

Amash has represented Grand Rapids in Congress since 2010. He's never missed a single vote on the House floor. He's now cast 2,500 votes in a row. This appears to put Amash and Congressman Steve Womack from Arkansas in a tie for the prize of longest active voting streak of any sitting representative.

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Politics & Government
1:35 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

No "grand bargain" for Detroit's water department, as Orr considers private bids

As “grand bargain” legislation sails through Lansing, the fate of Detroit’s water department could become the biggest issue holding up a speedy exit from bankruptcy.

Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr maintains the city needs to find some way to generate revenue from the system, which serves more than 4 million people in southeast Michigan.

Orr is still pursuing two different possibilities: spinning the department off to a regional water authority, or leasing it to a private operator.

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Politics & Government
8:50 am
Wed June 4, 2014

Week in Michigan politics: Detroit's grand bargain, UAW dues, and roads

Credit JSFauxtaugraphy/Flickr

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry and Christina Shockley discuss how lawmakers approved giving $195 million to Detroit, the state of the United Auto Workers after members agreed to raise fees for the first time in nearly 50 years, and why lawmakers can't agree on road funding. 

Week in Michigan politics interview for 6/4/14

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Politics & Government
11:24 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

Why you should care if the United Auto Workers Union is dead

The United Auto Workers union is currently holding its constitutional convention in Detroit, at which delegates are expected to vote on a controversial dues hike.

At the same time, there have been voices asking the question "Is the UAW dead?"

Iin the 1970s, the UAW boasted a formidable membership of 1.6 million members. Today, the union has fewer than 390,000 members.

Earlier this year, the union poured much effort into organizing workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. But more than 53% of those workers said, "no thanks." It was a gut-blow to the union, which first announced it would challenge the vote and then quietly withdrew.

Marick Masters, director of labor, professor of business, and adjunct professor of political science at Wayne State University,  joined us to discuss the relevancy of the UAW in 2014.

Michigan Radio’s political analyst  Jack Lessenberry joined the conversation as well. 

*Listen to interview in link above. 

Politics & Government
8:33 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

Police officers, firefighters push for exemption from bargaining law

It used to be that when municipal unions bargained a new contract that included a pay increase those raises would be retroactive to when the last contract expired.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Police and firefighter unions are pushing to be exempt from a state law that puts limits on municipal union contracts.  

A state Senate committee takes up the bill Wednesday. 

It used to be that when municipal unions bargained a new contract that included a pay increase, those raises would be retroactive to when the last contract expired. 

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Breaking
5:14 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

Michigan lawmakers commit $195 million to Detroit's bankruptcy reorganization

Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

State lawmakers have committed to contributing $195 million to Detroit's bankruptcy settlement.

The state Senate gave final legislative approval to the bills to help protect retiree pensions and prevent the sale of city-owned artwork at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

“Today we are all Detroiters and we are all Michiganians,” said U.S District Court Judge Gerald Rosen following the vote. Rosen has been overseeing talks between Detroit and its creditors, and is considered the architect of the "grand bargain."

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Politics & Culture
4:22 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

Stateside for Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

  Once the United Auto Workers boasted a formidable membership with more than one and half million members. Today: that number is drastically smaller, almost three-fourths smaller, with 390-thousand members.

Much has been written about whether or not the UAW is dead.

But, on today's Stateside, we asked, with such dwindling numbers does it really matter? And, to whom?

There is still ice on Lake Superior in the beginning of June. What is the cause?

A literary map of Detroit as seen through the eyes of writers, author’s and storytellers provides insight of Detroit’s history.

Also, want a free house? Well, if you're a writer, and ready to move to Detroit, you might just be in luck.

But, first on Stateside…

Michigan’s roads are crumbling and people want them fixed. Some estimates say it could cost almost 2 billion dollars a year to fix them.

State lawmakers are in the midst of considering raising revenue through higher taxes on gas and that has raised a lot of debate around what we already pay at the pump.

Michigan Radio’s Mark Brush set out to sort this out for all of us. 

*Listen to full show above. 

Politics & Government
6:32 am
Tue June 3, 2014

Snyder defends “pension tax” in special message on aging

Credit gophouse.com

Governor. Rick Snyder is firing back against critics of his so-called “pension tax.”

Snyder gave a special address on aging Monday in Rochester. He used part of the speech to defend his 2011 decision, which ended the practice of exempting pensions from state income tax.

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Politics & Culture
5:05 pm
Mon June 2, 2014

Stateside for Monday, June 2, 2014

According to a report by a former head of the state Treasury Department's Office of Revenue and Tax Analysis, Michigan has been cutting taxes over the last 20 years. That's He finds, overall, Michigan's had the smallest increase in taxes in the country as measured on a per capita basis between 1977 and 2011.

On today’s Stateside, we looked at the effect of two decades of tax cuts in Michigan, and found out whether anyone has actually benefited.

Next, we checked in with an Ann Arbor- based group that records music by people who live in struggling villages in Senegal and turns the recordings into profits that go directly back to the communities.

But first on today’s show, we got an update on Detroit’s bankruptcy.

It has been a busy few days in Detroit's bankruptcy journey. Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr and Mayor Mike Duggan were on Mackinac Island last week making their collective cases to the state's lawmakers and business leaders.

At the same time, the city's pensioners have begun to vote on the plan of adjustment, even as opponents of the “Grand Bargain” are seeking new ways to get their hands on the city's art.

Detroit News Lansing reporter Chad Livengood joined us today.

*Listen to the full show above.

Stateside
5:04 pm
Mon June 2, 2014

The latest on Detroit's bankruptcy after the Mackinac Policy Conference

Credit Peter Martorano / Flickr

Today we got an update on Detroit’s bankruptcy.

It has been a busy few days in Detroit's bankruptcy journey. Emergency manager Kevyn Orr and Mayor Mike Duggan were on Mackinac Island last week making their collective cases to the state's lawmakers and business leaders.

At the same time, the city's pensioners have begun to vote on the plan of adjustment, even as opponents of the “grand bargain” are seeking new ways to get their hands on the city's art.

Detroit News Lansing reporter Chad Livengood and Michigan Radio's Zoe Clark joined us today.

*Listen to the interview above.

Stateside
5:04 pm
Mon June 2, 2014

The new right-to-farm requirements and backyard animals

Josh Larios Wikimedia

Recent changes in the Michigan right-to farm requirements have drawn criticisms from those worried it may curtail their ability to keep bees, chickens, or other farm animals in their backyards.

But are these changes as threatening to urban farming as detractors fear?

Writer Anna Clark has looked into the revisions in the right-to farm requirements and she believes the answer is “no.”

*Listen to the full show above.

Politics & Government
4:13 pm
Sun June 1, 2014

Michigan congressman critical of deal to win release of American POW in Afghanistan

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was freed yesterday after President Barack Obama agreed to release five high-level Afghan detainees from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Credit U.S. Army/Department of Defense

A Michigan congressman is highly critical of the deal the Obama administration struck to win the release of America’s only prisoner-of-war in the Afghan war.

The Taliban released Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl after holding him for five years because the U.S. agreed to release five senior Taliban leaders from Guantanamo Bay.

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Politics & Government
5:06 pm
Fri May 30, 2014

"This is f****** b*******" rally to be held in Brighton tomorrow

A young man (no relation to Andersen) sitting near Brighton Mill Pond. Was he whispering expletives under his breath too?
User: raymond beardsall Flickr

The name of the rally was coined after a phrase uttered by a Brighton 19-year-old.

According to Amanda Whitesell of LivingstonDaily.com, Colin Andersen was hanging out in Brighton with his friends when things went wrong:

Colin Andersen, 19, was hanging out with friends April 11 in a parking lot next to the pavilion and Imagination Station when he became upset that a friend, who had been ticketed for skateboarding, was told by police to leave. He said he swore under his breath, saying “This is f------ bulls---.”

He said no children were around or heard him swear.

However, police ticketed him for disorderly conduct. Andersen challenged the ticket in court and lost; he was fined $200.

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Politics & Government
3:31 pm
Fri May 30, 2014

Poll indicates same-sex marriage is losing support in Michigan

Is same-sex marriage losing support in Michigan?
Credit user Tyrone Warner / Flickr

A new poll done by EPIC-MRA for the Detroit Free Press and WXYZ-TV indicates that same-sex marriage has lost support in Michigan. 

In 2013, the poll indicated that 51% supported same-sex marriage, and 41% said they opposed.

If it were put to a vote now, however, the poll found that only 47% would vote yes and 46% would vote no. The other 7% were either undecided, or refused to say. (The poll had a margin of error of +/- 4%.)

You can see the results from EPIC-MRA here (see question 26).

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It's Just Politics
2:32 pm
Fri May 30, 2014

Despite waffling, Snyder did join call to add LGBT protections to state's civil rights law

It's Just Politics with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta

It's Just Politics with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta

This week at the annual Detroit Regional Chamber’s policy conference on Mackinac Island, Governor Snyder joined the chorus of people calling for an update to Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights act to include protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people… sort of.

There is a lot of spoon-feeding to the press here on the Island – a litany of press conferences and media scrums. And, yesterday, one of those press conferences was held by a group of business leaders who want LGBT protections rolled into the civil rights law.

Meanwhile, at almost the exact same time as these business leaders were making their announcement, the Governor was talking to us, telling us he thought the legislature ought to take the issue up.

But, did he actually endorse it? “I’m encouraging them to say there’s been a lot of dialog and discussion on this. It’s been healthy in the public and I think it could be an appropriate topic for the legislators to take up. I would appreciate that,” the Governor said. And, that statement is fairly typical of the multiple exchanges we had with the governor on this topic.

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Politics & Culture
8:26 am
Fri May 30, 2014

Stateside for Thursday, May 29, 2014

First on Stateside, Gov. Rick Snyder joined us from the Mackinac Policy Conference, followed by Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes.

The prevalence of social media has changed a lot in our world, and in the wake of graduation season social media may affect job prospects for applicants. Having social media profiles that are professional may be the key to landing a job. 

University of Michigan researchers have developed a new app for smartphones that can detect mood swings in bipolar patients via voice analysis, so that patients can get the help they need. 

In the midst of all of the recalls, General Motors is approaching its five-year anniversary of declaring bankruptcy. 

*Listen to the full episode above. 

Politics & Government
6:31 pm
Thu May 29, 2014

Duggan's pitch to companies: Change a Detroit teen's life with a summer job

Mike Duggan

Helping Detroit teens get summer jobs could change their lives forever, and benefit whole communities.

That was Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan’s pitch for his new “TeenWork Initiative” at the Mackinac Island Policy Conference.

Duggan said too many Detroit teens feel like they’ve been “discarded” by society and the economy.

But he thinks that could change if they heard a different message.

“How powerful would it be if hundreds of companies came together and said, ‘We believe in you; we believe in your potential?” Duggan said.

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