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Preview: Michigan Radio: Jack Lessenberry: Jack's Take Podcast

Jack Lessenberry

Every weekday, Michigan Radio political analyst Jack Lessenberry offers up his perspective on the latest political news in Michigan.

Last Build Date: Fri, 24 Mar 2017 10:08:42 +0000


Could a super achiever fix an underperforming system?

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 16:35:52 +0000

Jocelyn Benson stood in line for two hours waiting to vote last November, holding her five-month-old son Aiden all the while. “I had to put him down and change his diaper twice,” she told me, smiling. Benson lives and votes in Detroit, where there are often too few voting places and machines for large turnout elections.

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EPA cuts would drain the future of Lake Erie

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 14:59:15 +0000

Last night I drove almost a hundred miles into Ohio to preside over a discussion with huge implications for Michigan. The topic was the future of Lake Erie, the warmest and shallowest of the Great Lakes and a major source of drinking water for 11 million people.

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I Vaccinate. You should too

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 13:46:01 +0000

I was ten when John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth fifty-five years ago. We were all mad for science then, and if you’d asked any of the kids I grew up with what we thought life would be like in 2017, we would have been sure we’d have colonies on Mars.

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Trying to fix Michigan's disgraceful legislative ethics

Mon, 20 Mar 2017 14:29:41 +0000

When it comes to ethics and integrity in government, Michigan is a disgrace. That’s not just my opinion. A little over a year ago, the Center for Public Integrity ranked our legislature worst among the fifty states in an analysis of state government transparency and accountability. We have few restraints on legislative behavior.

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Michigan comes out a loser in Trump budget

Fri, 17 Mar 2017 14:49:11 +0000

Michigan voted for Donald Trump in last year’s presidential election. But you would never know that from the budget he sent to Congress. You might think instead that we were a hostile nation at war with the United States, which therefore deserves to have its economy and its environment destroyed. This is a more anti-Michigan budget than I could have imagined. It would not cut, but instead completely eliminate, funding to clean up and restore the Great Lakes and their environment. It would also slash funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

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Former US Attorney Barbara McQuade served justice, not politics

Thu, 16 Mar 2017 13:46:16 +0000

With considerable fanfare, the Trump administration last week ordered every remaining Obama-appointed federal prosecutor, formally known as U.S. District Attorneys, to resign. They will now gradually be replaced by new Republican appointees. Michigan has two federal prosecutors. Patrick Miles, who was in charge of the western district, announced his resignation in January and left the same day President Obama did. But Barbara McQuade, the U.S. District Attorney in Detroit, stayed on the job. And by common consent, she did a superb job during the more than six years she was federal prosecutor.

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The coming health care disaster

Wed, 15 Mar 2017 14:26:42 +0000

As you almost certainly know, there’s a Republican-backed bill before Congress that would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act , known to most people as Obamacare. Republicans control both houses of Congress, and if they stay united on this, the bill should become law, perhaps within weeks. If that happens, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that within nine years, the number of people without health insurance in this nation would grow by 24 million.

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Alternative facts flourish without "common intellectual furniture"

Tue, 14 Mar 2017 14:21:27 +0000

Many years ago, I taught a course in specialty publications at a small university in the Detroit suburbs. One of the students was a woman who was an executive secretary at General Motors. She was nearing retirement, and she and her husband’s shared passion was a game called tabletop shuffleboard. Their dream was to publish a tabletop shuffleboard magazine.

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Trump’s support: It’s complicated

Mon, 13 Mar 2017 18:10:09 +0000

Many people I know would find it easier to understand someone who is transgender than someone who voted for Donald Trump for president. That’s just a statement of fact. And emotionally, I have to confess that I feel the same way. I can understand that one might feel trapped in a body and within a gender that feels wrong. I’ve known people in that predicament, and my heart went out to them.

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Freak weather reminds us of what's at stake in policy debates

Fri, 10 Mar 2017 15:59:56 +0000

For the last couple days, I, together with a million or so of my fellow Michiganders, have been living a sort of 19th century life. By that I mean that we’ve been living without power, electricity or heat, thanks to the freak windstorms that whipped through much of our state. Now, we’re not quite in the same boat as Abraham Lincoln. He didn’t have Double-A batteries, nor could he go to a motel with internet access, which is how I am broadcasting today. Freak weather has also been a part of Michigan as long as our sometimes pleasant peninsulas have existed. But there’s no question that something is going on that isn’t normal. Any baby boomer knows that when we were kids, a week in February with temperatures in the high fifties was unimaginable. That doesn’t mean it was unpleasant, but it did leave me worried about what this would mean for later this year. We did sometimes lose power due to freak windstorms in my youth, but that was nearly always in the summer, not in March. A few years

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Losing Healthy Michigan will make economy sick

Wed, 08 Mar 2017 17:08:33 +0000

I have an idea. This should especially appeal to everyone who either didn’t like President Obama, or thought there were flaws in his signature achievement, the Affordable Care Act. Let’s get even by taking health care away from 650,000 Michiganders with lower incomes. Now, granted, this will have repercussions.

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A former Democratic powerhouse offers advice for his party

Tue, 07 Mar 2017 15:13:01 +0000

For years, David Bonior was one of the biggest figures in Congress. A Democrat from Macomb County, he served for more than a quarter century, managing to win reelection time after time, even in years when the so-called “Reagan Democrats” voted Republican. Bonior saw his mission as fighting for the downtrodden, regardless of what toes he stepped on. He tangled with presidents of both parties, sparring with Bill Clinton over NAFTA and Ronald Reagan over his wars in Central America. He rose to achieve considerable power.

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State still doesn't get it about Flint

Mon, 06 Mar 2017 15:01:27 +0000

Last Friday, a number of university researchers and state and county public health professionals were supposed to have a meeting – actually, a conference call – with state officials. The group is called the Flint Area Community Health Environment Partnership, and the subject was their preliminary analysis of the reasons behind a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in Flint. More than 70 people got the disease during 2014 and 2015, when the city had been switched to water from the now-infamous Flint River.

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Conference in Sterling Heights celebrates Michigan history

Fri, 03 Mar 2017 15:23:39 +0000

People sometimes ask me, “How do you find something different to talk about, every day?” Well, if this were North Dakota Public Radio, it might be hard. But I don’t think it’s likely that I’ll ever run out of topics in Michigan. We’ve got around 10 million people, more than the entire country had 200 years ago, more geography than some European countries, a diversified economy and a far richer ethnic mix.

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Pontiac is the city we mostly forgot

Thu, 02 Mar 2017 16:51:50 +0000

It’s no secret that many Michigan cities are in trouble, economically and otherwise. The drama of Detroit has played out on a national stage. The entire nation also knows something about Flint, thanks to the horrendous water tragedy. Other towns, such as Hamtramck, have their own form of gritty cachet. But then there is Pontiac, a city that seems to be defined by things that are dying or just not there anymore.

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Moroun's selfishness and greed are endangering public safety and our economy

Wed, 01 Mar 2017 17:53:22 +0000

Six years ago, Governor Rick Snyder found a way to conclude a deal with Canada to build a new bridge across the Detroit River, something vitally needed if Michigan’s economy is to prosper in the years ahead. As of now, we are completely dependent on the almost 90-year-old Ambassador Bridge, which shows clear signs of wearing out, and which wasn’t built for today’s massive tractor-trailers. About $2 billion in trade moves across that bridge every week, mainly heavy industrial components that can’t go through the tunnel.

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With attacks on our free press, this is no time to keep silent

Tue, 28 Feb 2017 15:09:04 +0000

I took my friend Guy to lunch last week, the same day the President of the United States declared that members of my profession were “enemies of the people.” Guy is one of the most amazing people I know, and I wanted to know what he was thinking. He told me that after the election turned out badly, his father talked to his family at the dinner table.

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It's time our country embrace a National Service Corps for our young people

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 15:05:53 +0000

Some years ago there was an effort to boost enrollment at Wayne State University, where I teach. One administrator told me that they were admitting "anyone with a Pell Grant and a pulse." Unfortunately, the result wasn’t what everyone was hoping for. Some of these students weren’t intellectually ready or able for college, and soon dropped out or flunked out. Others weren’t emotionally ready, and had no idea what they wanted to do.

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Detroit's comeback only in small area

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 17:51:42 +0000

The other night I had dinner with John King, not the one on CNN with the election maps, but Detroit’s own John King, one of the city’s most colorful and eccentric personalities. John, whose ancestry is mainly Lithuanian, owns the city’s biggest bookstore, John King Used and Rare Books, housed in a huge former glove factory along the Lodge Freeway.

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Michigan's Speaker of the House goes down in a humiliating defeat, then gets vindictive

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 16:13:58 +0000

I’m not often astonished by the things legislators do, especially since our politics have been afflicted by the disease of term limits, a condition that means virtually none of those in leadership positions have enough experience to properly do their jobs. While one Democrat from the Upper Peninsula supported it, a dozen Republicans thumbed their noses at the Speaker and voted "no." When I learned about this, I had to check to make sure the world was still spinning on its axis and I was actually awake.

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