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transparency

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It is against the law in Michigan for anyone who holds political office to use campaign funds to pay personal expenses.

That said, it can be challenging to figure out if this is happening when elected officials use campaign money to pay off credit card balances, and then skimp on the details.

Such is the case with Sen. Jim Marleau, R-Lake Orion, as outlined in a front-page story by Detroit Free Press reporter Paul Egan.

Indiana lottery counter in a convenience store
User: Indiana Public Media / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

What does it take to obtain information about the Michigan Lottery? Specifically, the information about whether there are repeat winners — people cashing in on a lucky ticket over and over again at incredibly improbable odds?

That's the question a team of investigative journalists has been exploring for the Columbia Journalism Review.

William Foster


Only a few manufacturing facilities in the world measure over a million square feet. These marvels of modern industrialism are massive operations, and often heavily impact local economies. So when the residents of Vernon Township, a quiet agricultural community in Shiawassee County, heard rumors that an unknown company wanted to build a 24 million square foot manufacturing facility right next door, they naturally had some questions.

But local officials offered few answers. Citing non-disclosure agreements that prevent them from revealing most details, neither the township nor the city of Durand, the town nestled in the middle of the Vernon Township, have unveiled the identity of the company, or what type of facility it would be.

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley
Michigan House Republicans

Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley said he would make a big announcement at the Mackinac Policy Conference. It was widely expected that he would announce his candidacy for Governor. That’s not what he did.

Instead he released a ten point plan he calls “Clean Michigan’s Government.”

A police officer wearing a body camera
https://www.flickr.com/photos/pennstatelive/32513699213

 


This week’s political roundup examines two instances of government trying to restrict access to information.

Ken Sikkema, Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants and former Republican Majority Leader in the state Senate, and Darci McConnell, president & CEO of McConnell Communications, which consults for state Democratic causes and clients, joined Stateside to explain the issues.

Mark K. / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

It’s Sunshine Week – a time of year when issues of transparency and open government are put front and center.

 

Democrats in the state House and Senate celebrated the week Tuesday by announcing a package of bills they say will make Michigan government more transparent and accountable.

 

"The business incentives are just one small part of what our economic development effort is overall," said Steve Arwood, the CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)
MEDC

For years, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a conservative, free-market think tank, has been critical of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), calling it secretive and referring to it as the state's corporate welfare arm.

Last week we talked to James Hohman with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy about the MEDC. 

One of the Mackinac Center's criticisms is that the MEDC uses its billions of dollars to pick winners and losers in the business world. Steve Arwood, CEO of the MEDC, joined Stateside to respond to that criticism and discuss his organization's efforts to boost the state's economy.

STEVE CARMODY / Michigan Radio

A House committee has approved a package of bills to expand the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to cover the governor and the legislature, with a few exemptions.

That has happened before, but Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof buried it. It looks like he might do that again this year.

Government records revealed under the Freedom of Information Act.
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Michigan and Louisiana are the only two states that don’t apply their public records laws to the legislature and the governor’s office. A bipartisan group of Michigan lawmakers have rolled out bills to change that.

Michigan is ranked among the worst states in the country when it comes to government ethics and access laws.

Public Domain / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 

Many of us can’t wait for this election year to be over. We’ve seen a lot of things we’ve never seen before, and little of it has been good.

That’s not limited to the presidential race. It’s happening all over Michigan in races for the state House of Representatives.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

 

Bridge Magazine and the Michigan Campaign Finance Network teamed up for an investigative report on votes in the Legislature that could easily be seen as self-serving.

These votes include:

  • The owner of a business that installs septic systems sponsored a bill that would grant emergency waivers from season vehicle weight limits on people who haul around septic systems.

  • The president of a real estate management company sponsoring a bill that would make it more difficult to sue landlords for damages arising from bedbug infestations.

  • A state senator telling a hometown newspaper he could not vote on a bill that came to the Senate floor because it would give his daughter, a judge, a raise. He then turned around and voted “yes” on the same bill when it returned to the Senate.