Rick Snyder

Politics
7:37 am
Tue November 1, 2011

Pontiac's emergency manager fires department heads

Pontiac, Michigan
Dave Garvin Flickr

A state-appointed emergency financial manager for the city of Pontiac has fired the city's clerk, attorney and director of public works in what he says is realignment in City Hall.

The Oakland Press of Pontiac reports Lou Schimmel fired the department heads effective Friday. The changes
are part of what Schimmel, who was appointed to the post in September by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, says is an effort to put together his own team.

The clerk's office is being merged with human resources and the law department is being outsourced.

An employee with United Water, which is contracted to manage the city's wastewater treatment facilities, will run the public works department.

Schimmel was appointed to fill the post held for 14 months by Michael Stampfler.

Flint
3:29 pm
Mon October 31, 2011

Review of Flint's city finances gets 30 day extension

Downtown Flint, Michigan
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

A state team is getting more time to analyze Flint’s city finances.   

The panel’s findings could lead the governor to appoint an emergency manager to run the city.   

The panel’s report was due by the final day of October. But Treasury Department spokesman Terry Stanton says the 8 member team appointed by the governor needed more time to review a few more matters. The governor has granted the review team an additional 30 days. 

Earlier this year, the Treasury Department determined that Flint was in “probable financial stress."  

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Politics
1:29 pm
Mon October 31, 2011

Snyder says rail service 'vital' to Michigan's future

Railroad trestle in Grand Ledge, MI
user joeldinda Flickr

Governor Rick Snyder says improving passenger and freight rail service is "vital to Michigan's future."

He made the remarks in a statement shortly before giving the keynote address Monday during the Michigan Rail Summit at the Lansing Center.

Top federal and state transportation officials, elected officials and experts also will speak.

Snyder says improving passenger and freight rail service "paves the way" for growth in agriculture and manufacturing, enhances property values and stimulates local economies.

He says Michigan is well positioned to become a major transportation hub linking the economies of Canada other Midwestern states "so that the entire region benefits." Nearly 800,000 passengers rode Amtrak trains in Michigan during the last fiscal year, a record.

Transportation
6:37 am
Mon October 31, 2011

Snyder, federal officials to address rail summit

Michigan Municipal League Flickr

Governor Rick Snyder and federal transportation officials will speak today at a conference in Lansing on improving rail service in Michigan.

Michigan has 540 miles of publicly owned rail.

The governor has called for improving and expanding that system to move people and cargo more quickly and efficiently. He said he will seek more federal dollars and wants part of vehicle registration fees to be used for improving mass transit. 

“He believes very strongly that infrastructure is very important both to Michigan’s economy and to the future and that rail is very important to that mix, both passenger and freight," said Sara Wurfel, the governor's press secretary.

The state recently won a federal grant to purchase and upgrade 140 miles of track to be part of accelerated rail service between Detroit and Chicago. The governor’s plans for the state include making Michigan a central point in a regional business corridor that runs from Chicago to Toronto.

Flint
1:01 am
Mon October 31, 2011

Review of Flint's financial health due today

Downtown Flint, Michigan
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Today is the deadline Governor Snyder set to complete a review of the city of Flint’s finances.   

When he appointed the financial review panel in September, Governor Snyder said he wanted to hear back from them by the end of October. However, what the governor will hear is unclear. 

As of Friday, a governor’s office spokeswoman said the review team was still analyzing its data. And Flint Mayor Dayne Walling said on Friday he had not heard from the panel since earlier this month.  

The city of Flint is expected to end the current fiscal year more than 10 million dollars in debt. Flint leaders have cut the city’s budget by about a third in recent years, trying to balance rising costs and shrinking tax revenues. 

The financial review panel could recommend a variety of options to the governor. They include giving Flint’s elected leaders more power to deal with budget decisions or handing over power to a state appointed emergency manager. 

Flint city officials have said they hope to avoid a state takeover similar to the one in 2002.

Politics
5:03 pm
Fri October 28, 2011

State roads chief: "We're already at work" on governor's plan

user ardee4 Flickr

The director of the Michigan Department of Transportation said he’s already at work on Governor Rick Snyder’s proposals to fix and maintain the state’s bridges and roads.

Snyder’s plans include generating more than $1 billion in additional revenue each year for road maintenance, and using advanced technology to strengthen bridges.

Transportation Director Kirk Stuedel said he discussed the governor’s proposals yesterday with his bosses at the state Transportation Commission.

“They set the policies for the department, and we’re going to be following up with the committee chairs saying ‘It’s about time to be putting our budget together, and our budget is going to be focused a lot around the things that are in this message,’” Steudel said.

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Commentary
4:32 pm
Fri October 28, 2011

Snyder's Infrastructure Plan: Paved with Good Intentions

Governor Snyder put forth a bold new message on infrastructure a couple days ago. What he said immediately won praise from columnists and editorial pages across the state.

As a matter of fact, the governor’s plan is being enthusiastically supported by nearly everybody who understands how desperate a shape Michigan’s roads and bridges are in.

I looked at the details of the governor’s proposal when it was unveiled, but deliberately decided to refrain from saying anything about it until it was clear what the reaction would be.

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Transportation
6:01 pm
Wed October 26, 2011

Snyder says he'll continue to push for international bridge

Owners of the Ambassador Bridge have been spending millions of dollars fighting a proposed second bridge connecting Detroit and Canada.
Mike Russell wikimedia commons

Governor Rick Snyder said the state needs to invest more money in its roads and bridges, and he said he’ll continue to push for a new, publicly owned bridge linking Detroit and Canada.

Snyder made the remarks in a special message to the Legislature today.

He said a new international bridge will help create jobs and more markets for Michigan products.

“We’ve had some setbacks, but again, following my philosophy of relentless positive action we are going to stay relentless because I believe it’s in the best interest of all our citizens… You couldn’t find a better partner in the world than to partner with our neighbors in Canada and build a bridge,” said Snyder.

Governor Snyder wants lawmakers to find nearly $1.5 billion in additional revenue to help pay for road and bridge repairs and maintenance.  He says one way to fund that would be to eliminate the 15-cent fuel tax at the pump in exchange for a wholesale gasoline tax.

Politics
5:39 pm
Wed October 26, 2011

Proposal would allow motorcyclists to ride without a helmet in Michigan

user ivandub Flickr

A state House committee has approved a measure that would allow motorcyclists 21 years and older with at least two years of experience to ride without a helmet.

This is the newest compromise that opponents of the helmet law hope will win the support of Governor Rick Snyder.

The measure to repeal the four-decade-old helmet law now goes to the floor of the state House for a vote.

Republican state Representative Peter Petallia (R-Presque Isle)is the sponsor.

He says Michigan is the only state in the Midwest that does not allow motorcycle riders to remove their helmets.

“If Michigan did not have a helmet law, so you think we would enact a helmet law? My answer would be ‘no'," said Petallia.

Governor Snyder has said he will not support a helmet law repeal without assurances the costs of medical care for injured riders won’t be passed along to taxpayers or insurance rate payers.

The Petallia bill requires riders who want to doff their helmets to carry an additional $20,000 in medical coverage.

Opponents of the repeal say that would not cover a week of intensive care.

Economy
4:31 pm
Wed October 26, 2011

Governor Snyder wants more investment in Michigan's infrastructure

Governor Snyder said that every dollar invested in Michigan roads and bridges saves six dollars in the future.
user nirbhao Flickr

In a speech today directed toward the Michigan Legislature, Governor Snyder expressed his desire to improve just about every bit of infrastructure in the state.

Roads, bridges, airports, ports, rail, water lines, sewage pipes, and broadband Internet connectivity - it was all on the table, and the Michigan Governor said the state's infrastructure was suffering from a lack of investment.

The Governor said the state's economic recovery is tied to investing in all these bits of infrastructure, and that there is "no time to waste."

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Political Roundup
11:01 am
Wed October 26, 2011

The Week in State Politics

State Capitol, Lansing, MI
aflyingpsychofly Flickr

Governor Snyder is set to deliver an address this afternoon in Southfield about how he plans to improve infrastructure and transportation in the state. Michigan Radio's Zoe Clark spoke with Michigan Radio's Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry this morning about what we should expect to hear from Governor Snyder.

Politics
4:36 pm
Tue October 25, 2011

Governor Snyder to speak on improving Michigan infrastructure

user ardee4 Flickr

Governor Rick Snyder will deliver an address in Southfield tomorrow on improving roads and other infrastructure.

Geralyn Lasher is the governor’s communications director. She said the address will touch on a wide variety of topics that are critical to improving the state’s economy and protecting public health.

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Politics
1:46 pm
Tue October 25, 2011

State appealing ruling against privatization in home for veterans

The Grand Rapids Home for Veterans was built in 1885 'in response to the needs of Michigan's veterans in the aftermath of the Civil War.'
michigan.gov

Michigan’s Attorney General is appealing a ruling that prevents the privatization of nursing assistants as a state-run home for veterans.

The Grand Rapids Home for Veterans is one of two state-run hospitals (the other, much smaller one, is in Marquette) for veterans in Michigan. More than 700 veterans are housed there.

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Education
12:56 pm
Tue October 25, 2011

Head of new education authority talks priorities

user Woodley Wonderworks Flickr

DETROIT (AP) - The chancellor of Michigan's new Education Achievement Authority says his office has posted nine leadership positions that need to be filled before the start of the 2012-13 academic year.

John Covington met Tuesday with the authority's executive committee to review what he has done since taking the job last month.

The authority will oversee Michigan's Education Achievement System, announced in June by Gov. Rick Snyder.

The system will include the bottom 5 percent of public schools in Detroit. A few dozen Detroit Public Schools are expected to fall under the new system. It will expand statewide the following year.

Covington says his leadership team will include a deputy chancellor for Instructional Support and Educational Accountability, a deputy for Business and Fiscal affairs and a chief officer for Human Capital.

commentary
11:08 am
Tue October 25, 2011

New Detroit Bridge: Legislative Breakdown

There now seems to be an increasing likelihood that Governor Snyder may bypass the legislature and find another way to build a new bridge across the Detroit River. Late last week, a spokesman for the Ambassador Bridge Company said that would be outrageous.

He said it would be a perversion of the process to build a new bridge after the legislature said no. If that were the case, he might have a point. But that’s not at all what happened.

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Politics
6:11 pm
Fri October 21, 2011

Michigan's public defense system under review

Brian Turner Flickr

A state commission has begun work to ensure that everyone who is accused of a crime in Michigan gets an adequate legal defense.

Michigan allows every county to handle its own public defender system.

The system is frequently cited as one of the worst in the country.

That’s because some counties do a good job of ensuring that even people who cannot pay get a good lawyer. Other counties are more haphazard.

There are also no training standards for public defenders.

Retired Judge James Fischer chairs the commission.

“I think you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who would argue that there are no problems with the system, that it’s working perfectly fine for everyone. I’m pretty certain that’s not going to be anyone’s position," said Fischer.

The commission’s first step was to approve a set of questions for every county to answer on how it assigns and pays public defenders.

One of the common complaints is that public defenders must take on too many cases to earn a living.

Peter Cunningham is with the Michigan Campaign for Justice.

We need to come up with an improved system for public defense in Michigan. There needs to be more accountability – a statewide structure for holding counties accountable for how public defense is delivered, if not a statewide system,” said Cunningham.

Governor Rick Snyder gave the commission until July of next year to come up with a set of recommendations – including a way to pay for a better public defender system.

Commentary
10:38 am
Thu October 20, 2011

A New Detroit River Bridge: Bump in the Bridge Bills

So what happened yesterday?

For months, everybody interested in the possibility of a new bridge over the Detroit River had waited for the State Senate Economic Development Committee to take a vote.

Not that this would settle much of anything -- except to decide whether to let the full senate decide whether to vote. Most of the committee members have taken political contributions from the owner of the ancient Ambassador Bridge, Matty Moroun.

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Changing Gears
8:59 am
Thu October 20, 2011

Small businesses a magic bullet for a down economy? (Part 4)

Dr. Mark Gamalinda owns a dental practice in Andersonville, Chicago.
Niala Boodhoo Changing Gears

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before...

"We genuinely believe small business is the backbone of America, it’s going to the key for us to be able to put a lot of folks back to work."

That’s President Obama earlier this year.

Warm feelings about small business come at all levels, and on both sides of the aisle.

Here’s Michigan’s Republican Governor Rick Synder this summer:

"Talk about the jobs you’re creating, even if it’s one job – that is the backbone of the reinvention of Michigan."

Or Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel last week at the SmallBizExpo:

"Nothing is more important to our econonmic expansion than the small business of Chicago and the small business of tomorrow that will be in Chicago."

It’s more than just political talk.

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Politics
8:25 am
Thu October 20, 2011

Court rejects AG attempt to end partner benefits

A court has thrown out a lawsuit by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette. Schuette wanted to block a new policy that allows unmarried state workers to put live-in partners on their insurance plans.

The attorney general went to court after attempts by Governor Rick Snyder and Republicans in the Legislature failed to halt the new benefits for unmarried live-in partners  - which includes people in same-sex relationships.

The independent state Civil Service Commission earlier this year approved contracts with state employees that allow live-in partner benefits. The court said the commission acted within the scope of its authority when it approved the contracts. But it’s not settled that state employees will be able to continue to list domestic partners and their children as dependents on their benefits plan. The attorney general could appeal the court ruling.

A state Senate committee has also approved legislation that would ban public employers - such as the state, school districts and universities - from offering contracts that allow unmarried partner benefits.

Politics
4:38 pm
Wed October 19, 2011

First vote on new international bridge could come Thursday

The Ambassador Bridge
user cseeman flickr

State lawmakers today were supposed to move forward with a proposal to build a new international bridge in Detroit.  Instead, the meeting broke up without a vote.

A meeting of the Senate Economic Development Committee was abruptly adjourned after a new version of the legislation was handed to the committee’s Republican chairman. Senator Mike Kowall said he needed time to review the new legislation, but he expressed annoyance that months of hearings were capped by the last-minute development.

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