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.
Much of the interest in next month’s mid-term election involves our national politics. There’s interest in whether the GOP will regain a majority in the U.S. Senate and in the hundreds of millions of dollars of outside spending across the country, often by anonymous groups. It may be good to remember the dictum often attributed to former Speaker of the U.S. House Tip O’Neill: "All politics is local." So, do voters pay enough attention to local issues? How important are local and regional matters?
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.
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.