Months of campaign rhetoric come to a finale tomorrow, when Michiganders will have their say at the polls. More than 4.7-million residents voted in the 2012 presidential election. This year’s contest is almost sure to draw fewer voters than two years ago.
The end of the month is here. Many of us in the media put Michigan’s mid-term election front and center during October. In four days, voters will finally decide who will be Governor and Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General and Secretary of State as well as who will succeed Michigan’s Carl Levin in the U.S. Senate and dozens of elected representatives at the state capitol.
Five days before a mid-term election, the media is full of political news involving candidates, Democratic and Republican. In reality of course, the political landscape is more diverse. On Tuesday, Michigan voters will, for example, face at least five choices for Governor, including little known candidates from the Libertarian, Green and U.S. Taxpayers parties.
Next Tuesday, Ingham county voters will help determine who will represent them in the U.S. Congress. Today and tomorrow, Current State visits with both of the major party candidates. Many observers favor Republican Mike Bishop to win in the 8th district, which comprises Ingham, Livingston and northern Oakland counties.
In eleven days, Michigan voters will decide who will hold a handful of statewide offices, one of them, Attorney General. The race pits incumbent Republican Bill Schuette against Democratic challenger Mark Totten, who was a guest on Current State last week.
Election Day is now just two weeks off. Democrats and Republicans in Michigan and across the country are rallying their bases in a final push to get out the vote. Some voters, though, lean towards other political persuasions. There are a handful of smaller parties out there, like the Green Party and the Libertarians. One such party is blowing the dust off an old 19th century name and re-booting for a 21st century world.
Voters in Michigan will elect members of the governing boards of Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University on November 4th. At MSU, incumbent democrats George Perles and Faylene Owen are running to keep their seats for another eight years. Republicans have nominated Melanie Foster and Jeff Sakwa; Foster was on the board for ten years, but lost her bid for re-election two years ago, and Sakwa also ran unsuccessfully in 2012. There also are candidates from the Green, Libertarian, U.S. Taxpayers and Natural Law parties on the ballot.
The U.S. Supreme Court has begun its new session, and the cases the court has decided not to hear have been getting a lot of attention. The cases the court will hear are highlighted by issues related to unreasonable searches and seizures, and employment discrimination.
"Monday Morning Quarterbacking" around the state involves more than football today. Michigan’s main Gubernatorial candidates squared off in a town hall style debate last night. Republican incumbent Rick Snyder and Democratic challenger Mark Schauer appeared before a TV studio audience of undecided voters in Detroit. Viewers in mid-Michigan saw the town hall on WKAR-TV.
A lot has changed when it comes to the way we approach juvenile justice in the past couple of decades. In the mid 1990s, Michigan was one of a number of states that took a “tough on youth crime” stance, enacting laws that locked up more kids, even for non-violent crimes. Activists and academics alike challenged harsh sentences in favor of community based alternatives.
Tonight, candidates for three state House and two state Senate districts will meet in Lansing for a candidates’ forum. These public events are fairly routine in the weeks leading up to a big election, but this one puts a twist on the usual format. Current State’s Kevin Lavery reports that the candidates who’ll face this group of questioners will not be getting their vote on November 4. This forum will be run by middle and high school students from grades 7 through 12.
The seven justices of the Michigan Supreme Court are hearing oral arguments this week in cases ranging from public school employee pensions to rules governing damages awarded for personal injuries. Most of the time, the justices do their work away from the media spotlight, re-surfacing to announce their decisions. Earlier this week, Current State spoke with two members of the High Court: Chief Justice Robert Young and Justice Bridget McCormack.
The November 4 general election is now less than 30 days away. Candidates for a variety of offices are introducing themselves to potential constituents to make their case for why they deserve their vote. Tonight in East Lansing, eight city school board candidates will discuss their views at a public forum. The event is sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Michigan. It’s an organization that takes its voter education mission very seriously.
In the last thirty years, a Lansing resident by the name of David Lee Arnold has been convicted of indecent exposure 17 times, that’s according to the Lansing State Journal. Today, Arnold will appear in Ingham County Circuit Court to receive his sentencing for exposing his genitals at three different coffee shops in East Lansing and Meridian Township since 2013. Current State has learned that it’s expected that part of his sentencing agreement with Judge Rosemarie Aquilina today will include the requirement that Arnold must be injected with a medication called Depo-Lupron. Both Arnold’s attorney and the Ingham County Prosecutor’s office declined to comment.
There’s been more controversy this week involving Aramark. That’s the beleaguered food service company contracted to serve Michigan prisons. Yesterday at a meeting of the state civil service commission, one member said he felt mislead when told of a $98,000 dollar fine against the company that had actually been dropped.
Are we truly a Comeback State? Just how much can a governor influence the economy? The Citizens Research Council, an independent, non-partisan research organization that analyzes public policy questions, recently analyzed data to try to answer these questions.
A number of firefighting crews have been camped out along a main road at Michigan State University for the last couple of days. They’ve been taking part in an annual training exercise to learn how to rescue victims trapped in confined spaces. Current State’s Kevin Lavery reports that it turns out MSU has an ideal spot for this type of instruction.
Michigan courts, especially District Courts, assess criminal defendants all sorts of fines and fees. This revenue is crucial for cities and counties, and these fines and fees vary widely across Michigan. Ingham County relies on them for $800,000 of its annual budget. The District Court in East Lansing, according to city budget numbers, has netted the city $3-million a year for the past three years. It’s one of the only departments that actually makes money for the city.
Where in Michigan is Terri Lynn Land? With the November election fast approaching for Michigan’s first open Senate seat in 20 years, many are wondering where the GOP candidate has been. She’s taken heat for not publicizing her campaign schedule, for avoiding the media, and for refusing to debate her Democratic challenger, Congressman Gary Peters.
Lansing residents march along Holmes Street to call attention to recent shootings in the city. The activists were also protesting police brutality. Organizers will host a community forum on these issues tonight at 7 p.m. at Letts Community Center in Lansing.
Tomorrow marks one month since the death of Michael Brown, the unarmed African-American teenager shot by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. The event sparked protests and violent clashes in Ferguson on a level seldom seen since the Civil Rights Era of the 1960’s. The incident also spurred positive conversations and peaceful activism across the country, including Lansing. On Saturday, a few dozen people gathered on the city’s southwest side for a peace march.
In a recent op-ed, Republican State Representative Joe Haveman of Holland describes coming to Lansing five years ago to advance principles of limited government and restrained spending. He goes on to describe how his commitment to those principles unexpectedly led him to advocate reforms to Michigan’s $2 billion a year correctional system.
June has come and just about gone. The Governor signed budgets this month, though not for a comprehensive road funding package as many had hoped. Primary candidates traded jabs, and the Detroit Free Press shined an intense light on the state’s charter schools and it has generated a lot of discussion.