Jack's Take-logo

Jack's Take

Michigan PR


Ann Arbor, MI


Michigan PR




Could Mr. Brook go to Washington?

Last week, I spoke to a candidate for statewide office who lamented that she hadn’t been able to get out much among the people or keep up on important policy issues because she had to spend all day, every day on the phone, raising money. I also saw a candidate in a hotly contested congressional primary who told me the same thing.


The Michigan Civil Rights Commission defends humanity

Let’s say there had been a Michigan Civil Rights Commission in 1961, and it announced that it was going to start investigating claims of discrimination against black people. Undoubtedly that would have met considerable opposition, since there was, as yet, no legal basis to try to prevent someone from hiring you, or renting to you, because you were black. I don’t know how successful their efforts would have been. Probably not very, at least at first. They would have risked verbal attacks,...


The difference between Republicans and Democrats

I’ve been asked to speak to a group in Mount Clemens today about the difference between Republicans and Democrats. That may sound easy to answer, but it’s not. To an extent, however, the difference is easier to define than fifty years ago. Today, the split is largely ideological. Back then, the differences were, to a large extent, hereditary and economic. Voters in blue-collar, working-class areas like Warren or Flint voted overwhelmingly Democratic. White- collar and academic areas like...


The man who saw tomorrow

Stan Ovshinsky barely had a high school education, and part of him was always more at home in machine shops like the one where began working when he got out of high school. “For me, manufacturing has always had glamour to it,” he said. Yet he is remembered as a scientist who made breakthroughs that took your breath away: The first workable solar cells, rewritable CDs and DVD’s, the nickel-metal-hydride battery that powers your laptop.


Should Michigan legalize sports gambling?

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a law giving Nevada a monopoly over legal sports gambling. And there were immediately voices clamoring to legalize it here. They argued that the state would get more tax revenue as a result, and that it would boost tourism. Well, the tourism part sounds dubious to me, but I can easily believe that there is tax revenue in it. But will it be worth what it does to people? Here’s a little story worth considering: They tore down Detroit’s iconic...


Campaigns are too expensive. In theory, the FCC could change that.

Yesterday I mentioned a candidate for Congress who was frustrated that he had to spend so much time attempting to raise the money needed to run a competitive race. He’s far from alone. Virtually every candidate I know complains about the same thing. These days, running in a competitive congressional race costs millions.


Lessenberry: Public money for private schools, Bedrock lawsuit, sports betting

Attorney General Bill Schuette filed a challenge with the state court of appeals this week over the issue of public money for private schools. Schuette disagrees with a court ruling that said it's unconstitutional for the state to reimburse private schools for fire drills and other expenses required by the state. Michigan Radio news analyst Jack Lessenberry and Morning Edition host Doug Tribou discuss the issue and whether Schuette's appeal stands a chance.


The cost of running for Congress

Anyone who thinks they know how Michigan’s fall elections will turn out is a fool, but this much seems fairly certain: The race for the 11th Congressional District will likely be the most expensive and the most hotly contested. There’s no incumbent, since mortgage banker Dave Trott decided two terms were enough. The district, which consists of a collection of Wayne and Oakland County suburbs, leans Republican. But it is close enough that the right Democrat could win it in the right year....


Schuette’s land deals

Back in the old days, when a politician got caught doing something questionable, we said “this doesn’t look good.” Today, they say “the optics are terrible.” Well, whatever your terms, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette didn’t do his image any favors during a candidates’ forum four days ago. Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley , his main rival for the Republican nomination for governor, accused him of personally controlling the sale of millions in property he had inherited in the U.S....


Week in Review: GOP candidates hold first debate, and study gives term limits a "thumbs down"

The four Republicans running for governor held their first debate this week. It was the first time Attorney General Bill Schuette, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, Sen. Patrick Colbeck and Dr. Jim Hines have appeared together on one stage. There were arguments over the handling of the Flint water crisis and who's the biggest Trump supporter. One thing they all agreed on is that Michigan should not legalize recreational marijuana, but they said they'd respect the wishes of the voters. This Week in...


Whatever happened to citizenship?

Two years ago, southeast Michigan voted down what I think may have been the region’s best chance at a sensible and affordable regional transit service. Had the ballot proposal passed, a network of special rapid buses with their own lanes would have been built throughout the four-county area of Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Washtenaw. People without cars would have been able to easily get to and from Detroit Metropolitan Airport. I thought it would pass, even though the campaign to promote it...


The truth about term limits

Twenty-six years ago, Michigan voters faced a ballot proposal to amend the state constitution to impose strict term limits on all federal and state officeholders. That didn’t get a lot of attention then, because the main event that year was the battle between the first President George Bush, his young challenger Bill Clinton, and third party candidate H. Ross Perot. Michigan voters picked Clinton, and also opted by a landslide for term limits. I was around then, and think many chose term...


Michigan voters approve major school bond proposals, recall anti-Muslim village president

Voters went to the polls yesterday in several cities across the state, including Jackson, Kalamazoo and Kalkaska. Michigan Radio’s senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry and Morning Edition host Doug Tribou discuss the results.


Women who don’t belong in jail

You’ve probably never heard of Melissa Chapman, who has spent the majority of her life in Michigan prisons. When she was 18, her violent and abusive boyfriend shot a man and forced her to help hide the body. She was sentenced to life in prison for that. She’s been there thirty years.


Help the schools win the lottery: Vote today

Mark Krinock, a neurosurgeon from Kalamazoo, asked me something via email yesterday that I’ve heard people asking for many years. “I am curious how the state of education can be in such dire straits when the lottery has contributed over $7 billion over the last ten years to the education system.” Dr. Krinock is a big supporter of public education, and is puzzled by this. Why hasn’t the lottery taken care of education?


Lots of people angry over "baby box" commentary

There was a hearing in the Michigan House of Representatives last week on a bill that would allow a parent who wished to anonymously give up a child to place it in a box attached to the side of a building like a hospital, or a police station. When the baby goes in, two alarms are supposed to go off and notify both 9-1-1 and people inside the building to rescue the baby. Well, I discussed the concept on Friday, and expressed some polite skepticism, in which I echoed some of the concerns...


Week in Review: Study says oil leak would cost state billions and DMC cuts ties with Wayne State

A new study says Michigan's economy would take a big hit if there was an oil spill in the Mackinac Straits. A Michigan State University professor estimates a spill could cost the state's economy more than $6 billion. Enbridge Energy says the study is "flawed" and based on "unrealistic estimates." This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss the study's potential impact.


Do we need baby boxes?

State Senator Patty Birkholz, who died yesterday, was a classy lady who fought for the environment and tried to make this state a better place. She was a proud Republican who nevertheless wasn’t afraid to break from her party on occasion to do the right thing. She was, for example, one of the few prominent Republicans to back the Voters Not Politicians redistricting amendment. But she also did something else very important: Sixteen years ago, she sponsored a bill allowing a mother to safely...


The legal fight over animal rights

It often seems like we care less about each other than we used to – or at least, we are choosing policies not designed to help society in general or the next generation. Our lawmakers have been happily giving tax cuts to the rich while letting our infrastructure fall apart. It is far more necessary for today’s students to get higher education and far harder for them to afford it. Racism and xenophobia seem to be exploding.


The Democratic primary has turned into a game of Whac-A-Mole

Abdul El-Sayed and Shri Thanedar are each accomplished men. The 63-year-old Thanedar came over here penniless from India, started companies and made fortunes, even though he also has lost one or two. El-Sayed, who at 33 is barely half Thanedar's age, is one of the smartest and most charismatic people I have ever met.