Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

These 14 states were in the bottom of the rankings. Michigan was ranked the worst.
Center for Public Integrity

Fiftieth out of fifty states.

That's where Michigan ranks in a report released today by the Center for Public Integrity.

The last time we wrote about this, Michigan ranked 43rd out of 50. 

Gov. Rick Snyder
gophouse.com

Now that state lawmakers have cobbled together a roads package, the spotlight can turn to fresh priorities.

For example, fixing Detroit’s collapsing school system.

The governor estimates it will take more than $700 million to rehabilitate Detroit’s public schools and warns that if the state doesn’t tackle the mammoth school debt, things will only get worse.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A meeting this week may help produce an update into a possible federal probe of Flint’s water problems.

Congressman Dan Kildee says he plans to meet this week with Regional EPA director Susan Hedman to discuss the status of an investigation into Flint’s drinking water problems.

Kildee says the investigation has to look beyond just assessing blame.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s new mayor says she wants her city to return to total local control.

Soon after Karen Weaver took her oath of office as Flint mayor, she called on Governor Snyder re-instate total local control in her city.

“I do not embrace the current governance model on a moral or political basis,” Weaver told the standing room crowd that packed the city council chambers to watch her take her oath of office. 

Tom Casperson

State Senator Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, announced early Monday that he will run for the 1st U.S. House District, which represents northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.

He is the first Republican to officially announce to succeed Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Crystal Falls, who is retiring. Casperson has served almost 11 years in the Michigan Legislature.

 There’s been lots of debate over the past few days about the political wisdom of going ahead in Michigan with a couple of ballot campaigns after similar efforts suffered big defeats last week in Houston and Ohio.

OH to MI? Apples to oranges

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A one-man effort to recall Governor Rick Snyder from office faces a big hurdle this week.

Angelo Brown says Governor Snyder deserves to be recalled because of the role his administration played in the Flint drinking water crisis.

Brown’s recall petition accuses the governor of being “culpable” in the decisions that lead to the use of corrosive Flint River water as the city’s drinking water source. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s new mayor will be sworn into office at noon Monday.

Karen Weaver started the year as a Flint businesswoman.  She’ll end it as Flint’s mayor. 

Weaver defeated incumbent Mayor Dayne Walling in last week’s election.

Weaver emerged as the least known of a four person field in the August primary and campaigned hard on the city’s water problems.

When she takes the oath of office, she’ll become the first woman elected mayor in Flint.

Weaver will be mayor of a city still under control of a state oversight board. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint Mayor-elect Karen Weaver will be sworn in on Monday.   But she’s starting with less power than her predecessors.

When he took office six years ago, outgoing mayor Dayne Walling appointed more than a dozen top city officials.   But incoming mayor Karen Weaver can not appoint a single department head.

One of the last decisions by Flint’s last emergency manager was to give all personnel decisions to the city administrator. 

Michigan Attorney General's office

NEW YORK (AP) - Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is embarking on a $10 million-plus ad campaign to take on opponents of President Barack Obama's plan to reduce power plant carbon emissions.

  Bloomberg's Independence USA political action committee announced plans Friday to run TV spots aimed at the attorneys general of Florida, Michigan, Missouri and Wisconsin.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Gov. Snyder paid a visit to Hamtramck’s BanglaTown Friday, to officially open the Bangladeshi American Public Affairs Committee’s new headquarters there.

That Bangladeshi community is aiming for a higher profile among Metro Detroit’s immigrant enclaves.

Snyder again proclaimed himself “the most pro-immigrant Governor in the country.” And he says Bangladeshi-Americans are exactly the kind of immigrants Michigan needs.

Today on Stateside:

Yes, Virginia, there is a road funding plan

Nov 5, 2015
Michigan roads
user nirbhao / Flickr

The legislature this week passed a package of bills to fund Michigan roads. The legislation would bump up the state’s gas tax by seven cents per gallon, and boost vehicle registration fees by 20% beginning in 2017. It will increase taxes by $600 million also starting in 2017. The plan will also move $600 million from other areas in the state budget.

migop.org

This week, Michigan Republicans marked the second anniversary of their outreach office in Detroit.

The concept of selling the GOP in solidly Democratic Detroit, and opening an outreach office there, came at a time when more Republicans on the national level called for the party to be more inclusive, to reach out to African-American and Hispanic voters.

Currently, there are no African-American Republicans serving in the state Legislature, in Michigan's congressional delegation, or as directors of the state departments in Michigan or in major stateside offices.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Beginning next month, the city of Flint plans to again disconnect water customers who aren’t paying their bills. 

The first shutoff notices are going out this week.

This summer, Judge Archie Hayman judge ordered Flint to stop shutting off water service to delinquent customers. The judge found Flint illegally raised rates by 35% in 2011. As part of his ruling, the judge ordered the city to roll back the water rates and stop disconnecting people who had run up unpaid bills under the old rate structure. 

Numbers on a dry erase board. We had help calculating a 90th percentile.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has been under a lot of scrutiny ever since it was revealed that Flint had a problem with elevated lead levels in its water supply.

The agency oversees how the city of Flint manages its drinking water. And when they made the switch from Detroit water to water drawn from the Flint River, city water officials relied heavily on guidance from the state.

So shouldn’t the state have known about the lead problem?

And why did it take tests from independent scientists to finally push the state to admit there was a problem?

Jake Neher / MPRN

State lawmakers say they can now focus on some major policy proposals now that they’ve sent a road funding plan to Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk.

The Legislature is already diving into an overhaul of Michigan’s energy policies.

Today on Stateside:

Michigan roads
user nirbhao / Flickr

    

A late-night deal to fund road repair, construction and other transportation issues barely passed the Michigan House on Tuesday. After years of stalled debate, deals gone nowhere and a voter-rejected referendum, Governor Snyder is now reviewing a bill that partly solves the road funding question in Michigan.

Michigan Public Radio Network reporter Jake Neher explains the ins and outs of the bill in the interview above. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

After six years at city hall, Flint Mayor Dayne Walling only has a few days to clean out his office to make way for his successor. 

Walling lost his bid for a third term yesterday. Political newcomer Karen Weaver defeated Walling by nearly 2,000 votes.  She’ll be sworn in next week. 

Flint water treatment plant
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will conduct a full review of the actions taken to address drinking water quality issues in Flint. It is expected to be completed by the end of this week, with results released next week.

EPA regional administrator Susan Hedman said in a Nov. 3 letter to U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint, that she was asked by the head of the federal agency to carry out the review.

Two things happened yesterday that starkly illustrate what’s right and what’s wrong with politics and government in this state. First, we had an election – or, more accurately, a whole flock of elections. Turnout wasn’t great, despite the beautiful weather.

But the vast majority of the voters behaved reasonably and responsibly.


Jack Lessenberry.
Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry says he wasn't surprised to see that former state representatives Cindy Gamrat and Todd Courser didn't regain their seats after their sex and cover up scandal. Lessenberry says Flint's water crisis was a big reason why political newcomer Karen Weaver will now take over Dayne Walling's position as Flint mayor. Lessenberry also explains the road funding plan, which is now on it's way to Governor Rick Snyder's desk. Lessenberry says the roads plan won't actually fix the roads. 


USFWS

Ohio voters resoundingly rejected a proposal to legalize recreational marijuana on Tuesday.  But that’s not deterring a similar campaign in Michigan.

Failure of the proposed constitutional amendment follows an expensive campaign, a legal fight over its ballot wording, and an investigation into the proposal's petition signatures.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint voters have chosen a new mayor.

Karen Weaver was surrounded by jubilant supporters last night as she rolled to victory in Flint’s mayor’s race.

Weaver, a political newcomer, defeated six-year incumbent Dayne Walling by a convincing margin. 

“We voted for change so some things have to be different,” says Weaver, “but at this point I want to start with putting together a team so we can look and see what we need to do.”

During the campaign, Weaver repeatedly hammered Walling on his handling of the city’s drinking water crisis.

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

Former state Representatives Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat both lost bids to regain their seats after being forced out of the state House.

The two ex-lawmakers were very well known, but for the wrong reasons. Their efforts to cover up an extra-marital affair with wild rumors became the topic of national headlines and late-night jokes.

Gamrat lost to Mary Whiteford in her Republican primary. Courser lost his Republican primary to Gary Howell. Both seats are considered safely in the GOP column. The general election will be in March.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING

A pair of Lansing city council members won their re-election bids, as a third fell to a political newcomer.

Incumbent Carol Wood picked up the most votes for an at-large city council seat. Patricia Spitzley picked up the other at-large seat. 

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

Two former lawmakers who were booted from Michigan's Capitol for an extramarital affair and a strange cover-up scheme are well behind in crowded primary fields to win back their seats.

A demolition in Flint.
Genesee County Land Bank

Genesee County has set aside $1 million to demolish blighted tax-foreclosed properties in the out-county area.

The city of Flint, which is the county seat, has seen much of the focus of the area's anti-blight efforts in recent years.

Inkster voters are deciding a millage renewal this Election Day — for a school district that no longer exists.

The state dissolved Inkster schools in July 2013.

But the district still exists on paper to pay off debts — including a $12.5 million emergency loan from the state in the spring of 2013.

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