Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The heads of Flint's police and fire departments are out of those jobs.

Mayor Karen Weaver said Friday in a press release she's restructuring city operations and has accepted the resignations of Police Chief James Tolbert and Fire Chief David Cox Jr. She's also fired City Administrator Natasha Henderson.

“I’m doing what I told the people who voted for me that I would do," says Weaver, "My focus is moving the City of Flint forward and I feel these personnel changes are necessary to keep us on the right path.”

State Senator offers to resign seat as part of plea bargain

Feb 11, 2016
State Senator Virgil Smith, D-Detroit.
senatedems.com

Detroit Democrat Virgil Smith has offered to step down from his state Senate seat as part of a plea deal that also dismisses some charges connected to a shooting incident involving his ex-wife.

Wayne County Circuit Judge Lawrence Talon has yet to accept the plea and scheduled a March 14 hearing to decide if the agreement is was tough enough.

As part of the plea, Smith would serve 10 months in the county jail and five years probation for malicious destruction of property. Felonious assault, using a firearm during a felony, and domestic violence charges would be dismissed.

  • Governor Rick Snyder’s budget proposal for the coming fiscal year pays a lot of attention to Flint’s drinking water crisis and the state’s infrastructure shortcomings. We have more from our It’s Just Politics team of Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta.
  • In the wake of the Flint water crisis, there are some who are calling for criminal charges to be filed against Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and other state and local officials.
Gov. Rick Snyder
gophouse.com

Governor Rick Snyder had to push past a throng of protesters as he prepared to present his budget plan for the coming fiscal year. Much of the plan focuses on crises that emerged last year, including the Flint water crisis.

"Drink the water, Rick! Drink the water, Rick! Drink, the water, Rick!” was the chant of protesters just outside the doors. They could be heard inside the room throughout Governor Snyder’s budget rollout to state lawmakers.

Michigan’s second-largest county has come “roaring back” from the Great Recession.

That was longtime Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson’s message at his annual state of the county speech Wednesday night.

“The state of Oakland County is strong! Amazingly strong. Vibrant,” Patterson said.

He touted the county’s unemployment rate, which soared to nearly 15% in the depths of the recession. Now, it’s dipped below 5%.

Flint officials testify at Congressional hearing

Feb 10, 2016
sign in Flint, Michigan
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Democrats in Congress held hearings today about the Flint water crisis.

Public health experts and Flint officials appeared in front of the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee.

Flint officials testified they need federal money to help address the short and long-term consequences of lead in Flint's water supply. They said state funds are not enough. 

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha directs the Pediatric Residency Program at Hurley Medical Center in Flint. She said educational, nutritional, physical and mental health services must begin immediately.

The lawyer in charge of state Attorney General Bill Schuette’s investigation, Todd Flood.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

In the wake of the Flint water crisis, there are some who are calling for criminal charges to be filed against Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and other state and local officials.

The U.S. Attorney and State Attorney General Bill Schuette's office, as well the F.B.I., are all investigating to try to find out who is to blame.

But how likely is it that anyone will actually be accused of a crime?

Jack Lessenberry.
Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics: Jack Lessenberry talks about Snyder's budget proposal. Snyder is calling for more money for Flint's water crisis, and for higher education. He also talks about plans to replace lead pipes in Flint, as well as a proposal for a city in Wisconsin that has a water contamination problem. The city wants to start getting its water from Lake Michigan. 


Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Detroit parents, teachers, and school officials were in Lansing on Tuesday to speak out on bills meant to rescue Michigan’s largest district.

Demonstrators gathered outside a state Senate committee hearing on Senate bills 710 and 711. Not to oppose the legislation, but to bring attention to the deteriorating state of Detroit Public Schools (DPS).

Courtesy of Bill Schuette

The lawyer in charge of state Attorney General Bill Schuette’s investigation into the Flint water crisis says some people may be charged with serious crimes before it’s all over.

  

Todd Flood says criminal charges could include official misconduct by public officials and involuntary manslaughter, depending on what the investigation uncovers. The inquiry will cover both the lead contamination of the drinking water, and outbreaks of Legionnaire’s disease that caused 10 deaths.

  

Frances Kellor reading on a dock
Harvard University, Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America

As our nation continues to lay entrenched in the immigration debate, it might do us well to remember the life and work of a woman from Coldwater.

Frances Kellor rose from very humble roots in Michigan to become a nationally respected reformer. She worked in prison reform and for women’s issues, championed the cause of immigrants, rural and African American workers, and challenged the country to think about what it really meant to be an American.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver and retired National Guard Brigadier General Michael McDaniel.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver says the city plans to team up with technical experts from the Lansing Board of Water and Light to replace all the lead lines in one year.

Officials say the Lansing BWL has removed 13,500 lead pipes over the last 12 years at a cost of $42 million.

The Flint lead pipe removal project is estimated to cost $55 million. That’s money the city doesn’t have, so Weaver is calling on the state and Congress to make the money available.

Gov. Rick Snyder
gophouse.com

A state elections board has approved one petition that seeks to recall Governor Rick Snyder, but rejected several others.

The rejected petitions include efforts to remove the governor for his handling of the Flint water crisis. The rejected petitions were mostly due to spelling and grammar errors that could have made the drives susceptible to a legal challenge. 

Recall leader David Bullock vowed the effort to remove Snyder over what happened in Flint is not over.

Water faucet
user william_warby / Flickr

Detroit water department officials have a proposal meant to ensure everyone in the city can afford water.

The Water Residential Assistance Program (WRAP) would give qualifying low-income customers a fixed monthly payment.

Detroit Water and Sewerage Department director Gary Brown says data show that’s a key part of any utility assistance plan.

“When you’re economically disadvantaged, you need a fixed amount of payment to make any monthly payment,” Brown said. “So we hope to do that with this program.”

sign in Flint, Michigan
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

If you were to ask the average Michigander what the origins of Flint’s downfall were, you might get a few different answers. Some of those answers would likely be related to the auto industry – specifically, when General Motors left the city in the 1980s.

Michigan presidential primary voters will head to the polls a month from tomorrow. But, if you think the action is waiting until then, think again.

Hillary Clinton speaking at the House of Prayer Missionary Baptist Church in Flint on Sunday.
Sandy Svoboda / WDET

Hillary Clinton took a break over the weekend from stumping for support in New Hampshire to bring her campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination to Flint, where the city faces a public health crisis due to lead in the drinking water.

Clinton’s visit capped an hours-long church revival meeting filled with songs, sermons, and a pastor with a sense of humor as he noted the packed seats at the House of Prayer Missionary Baptist Church.

“I got a question: Where y’all been?”  asked Elder Kenneth Stewart to peals of laughter from the congregation.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

  FLINT, Mich. (AP) - Michigan Governor Rick Snyder says he's reaching out to Flint's Latino community to make sure residents are getting bottled water and filters during the city's lead-contamination crisis.

  The governor on Friday visited Our Lady Guadalupe Catholic Church, where volunteers are distributing water and filters to the church's predominantly Latino parishioners.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Hillary Clinton is bringing her presidential campaign to Flint Sunday.

But her rival for the Democratic presidential nomination is also setting up shop in town this weekend.

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders will top the Democratic side of Michigan’s presidential primary next month.

Michigan Legislature
Matthileo / Flickr

Former Michigan Teasurer Robert Kleine added another layer to the debate about what caused the Flint water crisis. Decisions made by Flint’s emergency manager led to the water crisis, but Kleine says the EMs aren't given enough tools to fix the problems in these struggling cities.

Gov. Snyder signs a bill that secures $28 million in aid to Flint on January 29, 2016 in Grand Rapids.
Gov. Snyder's office

In the coming months, there will continue to be much debate and discussion over the Flint water crisis. Who made the wrong decisions, and who knew what, when?

What about a discussion about the way Gov. Rick Snyder’s team, and the governor himself, have handled what has been a public relations nightmare?

Matt Friedman, the co-founder of Tanner Friedman Strategic Communications, joined Stateside to give some expert analysis and critique on the public relations side of the water crisis, starting with a missed opportunity by Gov. Snyder and his team.

  •  A public relations expert tells us what he thinks Governor Snyder should be doing in light of the Flint water crisis.
  • We learn why cities kep
Lt. Gov. Brian Calley at a news conference in Flint, Michigan.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan Lt. Governor Brian Calley declined to answer questions about calls for Governor Rick Snyder to resign. 

Democrats say the Republican governor should step down because of his handling of the Flint water crisis.

If he did, Calley would become governor.

In Flint today, Calley declined to speculate on Snyder resigning.

“I know the governor is completed committed to seeing this through,” he said.

Governor Snyder speaking at a Flint water press conference on January 27, 2016.
SnyderLive

Gov. Snyder spoke at a morning meeting of the Flint Water Interagency Coordinating Committee.

His remarks come after revelations that one of his top aides knew about an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in Flint and its possible links to the Flint River, almost a year before Snyder says he found out about it.

Thetoad / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Legislative hearings are underway on a plan to keep Detroit Public Schools from going broke.

Bills in the state Senate would commit more than $700 million from the state to restructure Michigan’s largest district and help pay down its crushing debt.

Lawmakers serving on the state Senate Government Operations Committee acknowledged repeatedly that the stakes are high.

Karen Blaha / flickr creative commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The public might not get to see a new plan to test and track a toxic groundwater plume that's been spreading for years in the Ann Arbor area. 

Pall Corporation is responsible for the dioxane plume. It developed and submitted the monitoring plan to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality – and marked it "confidential."

Bob Wagner, chief of the MDEQ's Remediation and Redevelopment Division, said department officials are asking Pall to explain why the company thinks the plan should be treated confidentially.

  • If you're a police officer in the U.K., you might go your entire career without ever seeing a gun. Compared to what London Metropolitan Police Constable Michael Matthews is used to, Detroit is "a completely different world."
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

High levels of lead in their drinking water have Flint residents relying on cases of bottled water for just about everything.  

It may come as no surprise that thousands of those residents have stopped paying their water bills.  

And that presents both questions and problems.    

Last week, Lynna Kaucheck handed a stack of papers to a staffer outside Flint’s mayor’s office.

Foreclosure sign
Jeff Turner / Michigan Radio

A Detroit woman is fighting to win back her home of 40 years.

Wayne County foreclosed on Mary Sanders' home over about $1,200 in unpaid taxes and fees.

The home was purchased for $2,300 in a tax auction last fall by Chris Meyer, a California-based developer who owns CDM Real Estate, Inc., in Ann Arbor.

Sanders says she was unaware she owed outstanding taxes. Sanders, 80, also qualified for tax exemptions based on her age and income that she says she was not informed about.

Congressman Dan Kildee
Photo courtesy of the Office of Congressman Dan Kildee

The Flint water crisis has come to Capitol Hill as Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., was one of the first to testify today before the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The hearing seeks to find out how the city’s drinking water was contaminated with elevated levels of lead.

Shortly after his testimony, Rep. Kildee spoke to Cynthia Canty on Stateside, and said he hopes the facts of the situation are brought to light.

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