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Thursday, October 30, 2014


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The PoliTicker

Mayor Nathan Triplett selected as VP of Michigan Municipal League


By Sergio Martínez-Beltrán          Last updated: 10/22/14 11:47am         

East Lansing Mayor Nathan Triplett was selected last week as the vice president of the Michigan Municipal League, or MML, Board of Trustees.

According to a press release from the MML, Triplett will now be in line to be the president of the MML Board of Trustees for the 2015 - 2016 term.

Triplett, who has been serving on the MML Board of Trustees since 2012, was selected by the 19 members of the board during the Michigan Municipal League 2014 Convention in Marquette, Michigan.

“I’m honored to be elected as the League’s vice president,” Triplett said in the press release sent by the MML. "The work of the League has never been more important than it is today and I look forward to working with my colleagues on the board of trustees and the League staff to be a strong voice for communities.”

According to the MML website, the mission of the league is to bring officials from different cities and villages to exchange information and develop unified policies among the cities involved.


Gubernatorial candidates outline stances on schools, marriage equality, fracking


By Sergio Martínez-Beltrán          Last updated: 10/14/14 8:43am         

The gubernatorial debate on Sunday between Michigan's governor Rick Snyder and congressman Mark Schauer was their first and only debate before the Nov. 4 elections.  

Snyder claimed to be responsible for the state's economic turnaround while Schauer accused Snyder of cutting $1 billion in schools' education funds and increasing tuition rates. Snyder denied the claim.

According to a Detroit Free Press Fact Check, universities have seen their state funding cut seven times. However, Snyder's 2014 budget has a 6.1 percent funding increase. 

In the environmental discussion, a member of the audience at Wayne State University asked the governors about their stance on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. 

"In Michigan we do fracking right," Snyder said. 

On the other hand, Schauer said he would never sacrifice the environment for jobs. 

When asked about marriage equality in the state of Michigan, Schauer said he supports marriage equality while Snyder said he would leave it to the federal courts to decide the matter. 

After the debate, Schauer avoided his media scrum relying on U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow and Michigan democratic senator Gretchen Whitmer to speak on his behalf. 


Spartans for Snyder to host gubernatorial debate watching party Sunday


By Jameson Joyce          Last updated: 10/10/14 1:54pm         

This Sunday in the basement of Case Hall, Spartans for Snyder will be hosting an event to watch the gubernatorial debate between incumbent governor Rick Snyder and Mark Schauer at 6 p.m. 

The event is sponsored by the Detroit News, the Detroit Free Press and Detroit Public Television, who will be televising it on Channel 56 along with providing an internet feed.

Chris Pawsat is the chairman for Spartans for Snyder. Despite his group's political affiliation, he said anyone was welcome to attend.

Currently, Snyder and Schauer are close in the polls, with Snyder holding a slight lead. The debate between the two has been anticipated by supporters on both sides and has been in the works for months. The debate will take place in front of an audience of undecided voters at a town hall in Detroit.

The Schauer campaign has been calling for a debate and only recently did Snyder campaign agree, although they are calling the event "a joint appearance." 

Schauer has also agreed to three other debate invitations, although Snyder has not responded.

According to the format agreed upon by both campaigns of the debate will open, with no formal time limits or opening/closing statements. The moderators will be allowed to interrupt a candidate if he takes too long to answer a questions. The candidates will not be allowed to interrupt each other.

Realclearpolitics.com ranks the Snyder-Schauer election as a "toss up," with Snyder leading by an average of 4.3 points.


Deadline for voter registration today


By Sergio Martínez-Beltrán          Last updated: 10/06/14 10:55am         

Not registered but want to vote in this November's elections? Your deadline to register is today.

Registrations can be submitted in person at a township, county or city clerk office by Monday, Oct. 6.

This November's voters will decide the governor, state attorney and secretary of state.

Michigan residents will have the opportunity to vote between Republican candidate Gov. Rick Snyder and Democratic candidate Mark Schauer.

The race for the U.S. Senate seat between Terri Lynn Land and Gary Peters is one that people in the state have been talking about. While different media outlets have asked for a public debate between Peters and Land, both claim a lack of interest in debating in public.

Attorney general Bill Shuette is running against Mark Totten while Republican Mike Bishop will run against Eric Schertzing for a seat in Congress (8th District).

According to the Lansing State Journal, voter registration has been creeping up, going from 7,405,605 in January to 7,419,395 as of Sept. 28.


The time I met the president


By Rebecca Ryan          Last updated: 02/10/14 9:21am         

Last Friday, I wasn’t supposed to meet President Barack Obama. But by chance, I did. In fact, I even took a picture with him. His staff just wouldn’t let me keep the photo to prove it.

Let me start from the beginning. I originally got into Obama’s speech at MSU last Friday by volunteering to be an usher. Luckily, I was assigned the section of seating reserved for people vetted to meet the President.

Before people started flooding into the Mary Ann McPhail Equine Performance Center Friday, another student and I were being friendly to some of the guests who were let in early. One woman, in particular, was especially friendly, and the friend I was volunteering with continued to talk to her throughout our morning of ushering people to their seats.

Just a few minutes before the group was filled out of the center’s main room and into a small holding area to meet Obama, I walked over to my friend and she excitedly explained the woman had told her she’d bring us with her to meet the President.

At first, I was hesitant. I thought there was no way we actually would make it through security, as we only were volunteers and a majority of the people in our section were politicians or influential members of our community. It seemed the only Spartans in our small group were Mark Dantonio and Tom Izzo (who ended up being the first and second person to shake hands with the President in our group).

But the woman encouraging us brought up a valid point that gave us the guts to pretend we belonged with the chosen ones. She talked about how she had held back from pursuing what she wanted far too long, and it took her a long time to realize if you really want to do something, you have to try.

As the group of people filed out, we stepped into line and tried to smile and act like we belonged. We were almost stopped by staff as we made our way into a tiny room sectioned off with a curtain, but the woman leading us confidently told the man we were with her.

It didn’t take long for the staff to realize we didn’t belong there. But they remained professional and didn’t tackle us or take us out. We stood in the small holding room and talked about how excited we were to meet Barack. I even got a picture with Dantonio and Izzo while we waited.

Finally, Obama came into the room, although we couldn’t see him because he was around the corner behind a curtain. Secret service men stood around him and came into our tiny holding area. Then we could hear his friendly voice making jokes to the people in line. He laughed with a U-M student, asking her if she needed a security escort when she left the center since she was in Spartan territory.

Then we were up. The woman who had helped us sweep through security went up first, and we stepped forward as she finished shaking his hand and smiling for a photo. But their staff gave us a scolding look and told us we wouldn’t be able to meet him.

Obama was standing right in front of us, and the staff told us we had to leave.

My friend and I looked at each other, smiled and took a step toward the president. She explained we were students and I told him we were so excited to meet him. Obama enthusiastically said he loved meeting volunteers and was excited to have some students there. His photographer even took our picture, much to the dismay of the man orchestrating the meet and greet.

In that moment, I wish I’d said something more special. But I honestly can’t remember what more I said.

We went back and asked for the picture after the speech, but his staff explained we wouldn’t be receiving them since we hadn’t been vetted. I have no proof I met him.
But whether or not I have a photo to prove it, I will never forget that feeling of disbelief as I walked out of the holding room.

I was so shocked that it had actually worked. For a few seconds, we had demanded Obama’s attention. I was smiling, shaking, staring at my friend in disbelief. I just walked into a room and met the president. No one stopped us.


Rolling Stone article highlights abortion debate in Michigan


By Geoff Preston          Last updated: 01/21/14 1:10pm         

A recent Rolling Stone article highlights the ongoing debate about abortion through the lens of the Michigan State Senate just down the road in Lansing.

The article begins its look at abortion in America with a look at Michigan state minority leader Gretchen Whitmer, who told the story of her rape on Dec. 11 before the senate voted on a bill that would be one of the most stringent anti-abortion laws in the country. The vote came right before the winter recess.

“Over 20 years ago, I was a victim of rape,” she said. “And thank God it didn’t result in a pregnancy, because I can’t imagine going through what I went through and then having to consider what to do about an unwanted pregnancy from an attacker.”

Despite this plea the legislation voted to pass the Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act. The act prohibits coverage of any abortion, even caused by rape or incest, in almost every coverage plan in the state. Women and their employers who want abortion covered on their insurance plan will have to purchase a separate rider which is often called “rape insurance.”

Michigan joins a slew of states that have passed laws prohibiting insurance coverage of abortions. 24 more states have banned some kind of anti-abortion coverage on insurance plans.


New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in hot water


By Simon Schuster          Last updated: 01/21/14 12:28pm         

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s 2016 presidential hopes might be on the rocks after two controversies have embroiled his administration in recent weeks.

The first was the revelation that an aide close to the governor had arranged with the Port Authority to close a lane of the George Washington Bridge, ensnaring traffic for days on an already often congested route.

Chronicled in early January by The New York Times with headlines like ”Christie’s Carefully Devised, No-Nonsense Image in Peril,” the details emerged from administration emails subpoenaed by an investigation into the lane closure.

The closure evidently was directed at the mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey, as punishment for not endorsing Christie during his reelection. Christie denied having any knowledge of the aide’s actions and subsequently fired her in the ensuing media frenzy.

Still reeling from the hit to his otherwise relatively pristine public image, Christie was hit with another scandal last week as Hoboken mayor Dawn Zimmer accused Christie making herself and Hoboken the subject of what many media outlets have deemed the governor’s “bully politics.”

Zimmer alleged on MSNBC the New Jersey Lieutenant Governor threatened to withhold recovery funds in the wake of Hurricane Sandy unless the mayor supported a Rockefeller real estate development.

In an age of ideological polarization, Christie had emerged as a moderate conservative fawned over by political analysts as a leader making genuine efforts towards bipartisanship.

In light of recent events, whether Christie’s image can rebound from the battering it has received is still unclear.


Obama: Affordable Care Act website working well for majority of users


By Michael Gerstein          Last updated: 12/05/13 8:06pm         

After the Obama administration said Sunday that the tech problems ailing the new federal healthcare exchange website were fixed, Obama addressed reporters on Tuesday about the Affordable Care Act rollout.

“Today, the website is working well for the vast majority of users,” Obama said in a statement. “More problems may pop up, as they always do when you’re launching something new. And when they do, we’ll fix those, too.”

Glitches plagued the federal healthcare exchange site once it went online on Oct. 1, when eager healthcare-seekers tried in vain to explore their policy options on the site.

The Affordable Care Act mandates that all Americans have health insurance of some kind. Many employers cancelled healthcare benefits for employees after the federal exchange went up, leaving many without insurance.

“After just the first month, despite all the problems in the rollout, about half a million people across the country are poised to gain health care coverage through marketplaces and Medicaid beginning on January 1st — some for the very first time,” Obama said in the statement.

“The bottom line is this law is working and will work into the future,” he said.


Mark Schauer campaigns on raising minimum wage to $9.25 an hour


By Michael Gerstein          Last updated: 12/05/13 4:54pm         

Democractic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer said he would pressure the Legislature to raise the minimum wage to $9.25 an hour if elected, which would grant Michigan the highest minimum wage in the country.

Schauer contends this would return it to the buying power it had in 1968, though a report from CNN lists that figure at $10.56 an hour.

At any rate, Schauer said, “It’s morally the right thing to do, and it’s good economics for Michigan,” according to media reports, while Gov. Rick Snyder remained ambivalent.

“Snyder, who is likely to face Schauer in the 2014 election, told reporters in Lansing … such a change ‘would be a challenge,’” the Detroit Free Press wrote. “‘We are better than having people work full time and live in poverty, especially when they’re raising kids,” he told the Associated Press, which was briefed on Schauer’s plan before he planned to unveil it outside a Detroit bakery this morning.’”

The article continued with a quote from Schauer: “This is about simple economics,” Schauer said. “When working families have more to spend on everyday necessities like gas, groceries and clothes for the kids, it creates demand for the economy. When demand increases, small businesses grow and hire work more workers.”

Schauer’s proposal is lower than that of the fast food protesters calling for $15 an hour, a demand that’s unlikely to gain any traction in Congress or corporate boardrooms.


Snyder talks Detroit bankruptcy on MSNBC's Morning Joe


By Michael Gerstein          Last updated: 11/08/13 12:21pm         

Amid an ongoing trial over the legality of Detroit’s bankruptcy filling and the city’s billions of dollars of debt, Gov. Rick Snyder made an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe to talk about the court case and the city’s future.

“We’re making good progress in Detroit,” Snyder told the show’s host, Joe Scarborough. “We’re not waiting to go through bankruptcy and then have Detroit come back. Much of Detroit is already coming back, and the last obstacle is really the municipal question, about getting better services to citizens dealing with debt and with the bankruptcy.”

The city is struggling under the oppressive weight of $18 billion in debt and more than $19.1 million more spent on firms hired to sort through those financial burdens and navigate legal issues surrounding the bankruptcy, the New York Times reported.

As a result, the cash-strapped city gouged public services, cutting much of its police and fire staff, threatened to sell assets from the Detroit Institute of Arts to pay back creditors and is now seeks to cut public pensions.

But Snyder remained optimistic.

“A lot of exciting things are going on,” he said.

The bankruptcy is a chance to move past Detroit’s troubles, he said, with new urban planning strategies and the creation of green spaces — part of the Detroit City Future plan, a revitalization effort.

Watch the full interview here, where Snyder also talks about the legality of the bankruptcy case, cutting pensions, the Affordable Care Act and voter ID laws.