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Jack's Take

Michigan PR

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Ann Arbor, MI


Michigan PR




Knowing when to go

I do not know Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon very well, but I did know her predecessor, Peter McPherson, whom she served as provost. Once, I asked him how long a university president should stay in office. McPherson’s hero, the legendary John Hannah, had been MSU’s president for 27 years, and transformed the school from a small mostly agricultural college into a huge “megaversity.” McPherson said the ideal was to leave one year before people wanted you to, so that in...

Duration: 00:02:54

Governor Snyder should resign. Here's why.

If Governor Rick Snyder were prime minister of Great Britain, he’d have gone to the palace and resigned this morning. That’s because he lost what Parliament would have called a vote of no confidence, and lost it in spectacular fashion. Both the state House and Senate overwhelmingly voted to override Snyder’s vetoes on two bills. There are 90 Republicans in the legislature, and our Republican governor kept the support of precisely one of them.

Duration: 00:03:04

Gretchen Whitmer is the Democrats' best hope, even if they don't like it

These days, the place to go for solid in-depth print reporting on what’s happening in this state is not a newspaper, but Bridge, the online magazine. Bridge, a publication of the nonpartisan, nonprofit Center for Michigan, has hired many of the state’s best journalists to do deep-dive, penetrating reporting about conditions in this state. Today, they have a blockbuster story that indicates that Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and a number of union leaders are trying to recruit another Democratic...

Duration: 00:03:04

What MLK day should mean

Today is not only the Martin Luther King federal holiday, but Dr. King’s actual birthday. Had he not caught that bullet on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel half a century ago, he might still be with us.

Duration: 00:02:51

Michigan's budget is heading down a dangerous path

Most people don’t know this, but both branches of the Legislature have nonpartisan fiscal agencies that analyze the economic impact of bills on the Michigan economy. Five days before Christmas, the Senate Fiscal Agency published a short book that was guaranteed not to become a best seller: Michigan’s Economic Outlook and Budget Review .

Duration: 00:02:56

The senatorial agony of the Michigan Republican Party

For Michigan Republicans, running for the U.S. Senate has become an exercise that reminds me of a group of single guys who go off to the bar. They are happy, relaxed, they’ve just been paid, and they sit there and drink and talk about all the worlds they will conquer. But the hours go by and dawn approaches, and in the morning, they trudge back to work in the cold gray half-light of reality. That’s what we are starting to see now, in Michigan Republicans' attempts to win the seat held by...

Duration: 00:03:02

Remembering our nation's second-most bizarre president

Probably few are thinking about him today, on what would have been his 105th birthday, but there was a time when everybody thought about him all the time. For a while, he was one of the most divisive figures in this nation’s history. I never met him, but I was in a room with him more than once. The last time was nearly thirty years ago before a packed crowd at the Detroit Economic Club.

Duration: 00:02:53

Over 50 years after the War on Poverty, it's time to find a solution

Fifty-four years ago, kids were bused from my suburban Detroit high school to Ann Arbor for a special event. The president was coming to the University of Michigan to give a historic commencement addresses. Lyndon Baines Johnson, in office exactly six months following the assassination of President Kennedy, announced his plans to build what he called the Great Society by launching a massive war on poverty.

Duration: 00:03:05

Legislators have to legislate — even when they're running for office

Thirty years ago, both Detroit newspapers circulated statewide, had hundreds of thousands of readers, and had squads of reporters in Lansing, covering state government. The Detroit News at one time had 13 reporters there, on the reasonable theory that state government was really the most important branch of government in the lives of people.

Duration: 00:02:51

The politics of irrational behavior

There’s a principle in law called the “presumption of regularity” that holds that, generally speaking, the things government does are considered to be legal unless proven otherwise. That’s why, a law professor once told me, it took so long for people to really believe that President Nixon was lying and encouraging members of his administration to break the law.

Duration: 00:02:59

The looming little-known health care crisis

For the last year, there has been a lot of news about Republican efforts to kill the Affordable Care Act, or failing, that, to try and strangle its funding. In recent weeks, we’ve also become increasingly aware of the crisis facing the federally funded Children’s Health Insurance Program, known as CHIP, which provides health insurance for more than nine million kids nationwide, more than 100,000 of them in Michigan.

Duration: 00:03:05

In 2018, Michigan will choose new leaders to deal with old problems

One day this fall, I was listening to the news while driving to Lansing. The announcer, in a manner-of-fact tone, talked about the tweets the President of the United States had sent in the wee hours of the morning attacking his own secretary of state. It seems the two men differed on what approach to take in handling the dictator with nuclear weapons our chief executive was calling “Little Rocket Man.” What struck me was the degree to which this all seems normal now — the degree to which...

Duration: 00:02:50

A win for teachers, but not for Democrats

The Michigan Supreme Court ruled unanimously yesterday that the state has to refund more than half a billion dollars improperly taken from the state’s teachers. That has to be an extremely welcome holiday present for Michigan’s beleaguered teachers, who for years have felt under siege from politicians who have weakened their unions, their pensions, and made them pay more for health care. This should also be a political gift to the Democrats, who have in recent years become the party of...

Duration: 00:03:05

Fighting our worst epidemic

I was a teenager during the psychedelic 1960s, when my friends were tuning in, turning on, dropping acid, and later dropping out. For those of you who weren’t there and are seized with Sixties nostalgia, it was, more than most TV specials suggest, an age of anxiety.

Duration: 00:02:47

The fight against gerrymandering faces its next obstacle

Getting a state constitutional amendment on the ballot is a lot harder than it sounds, as many groups have found out over the years. You have to have the manpower and patience and discipline to collect 315,654 valid signatures within six months. Some of the signatures are always thrown out, often because some people sign twice or aren’t registered to vote.

Duration: 00:03:01

Bill Schuette encourages foot-dragging when it comes to your right to know

We once had a President who believed anything he did was legal, just because he was President, and that he had the right to keep anything from the public he wanted to. His name was Richard Nixon, he attempted to lead a vast criminal cover-up, and in the end, that didn’t work out too well. He was driven from office in disgrace, largely because even top members of his own party believed America was meant to be a democracy.

Duration: 00:03:03

The state has taken steps to fix wrongful insurance fraud penalties, but more needs to be done

The Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin once said that the death of one man is a tragedy; the death of a million is a statistic. Well, tragedy can also result from treating people as statistics, and that’s what happened to at least 37,000 Michiganders in recent years.

Duration: 00:03:01

When it comes to taking a stand, timing matters

For more than a year, the sexual assault scandal at Michigan State University has been simmering in the background, a ticking time bomb that was certain to explode with devastating consequences for the university. That this would have a political dimension was also certain.

Duration: 00:03:07

It's time for Michigan to decriminalize mental illness

For many years I’ve admired Milton Mack, who is about as authentic a Detroiter as they come. Two of his ancestors arrived with Cadillac when they founded the city in July 1701. I don’t know how long it was before those French voyageurs built their first prison stockade. But today, Michigan has tens of thousands of people in prison, which costs us almost $2 billion a year. Mack, who spent years as chief probate judge in Wayne County, has studied our prison system for years and made...

Duration: 00:03:08

How do you fix the mess at MSU?

Last week I talked about the sexual assault scandal involving sport doctor Larry Nassar at Michigan State University and its possible effect on next year’s campaign for governor. Gretchen Whitmer , the likely Democratic nominee, was Ingham County prosecutor when newspaper accounts reported that women were coming forth to charge that Nassar had sexually abused them. The prosecutor’s office didn’t file charges against Nassar then. One prominent Democrat, a supporter of Whitmer’s, told me he...

Duration: 00:03:13

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