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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: Tue, 25 Apr 2017 01:26:56 +0000


Plenty of challenges face Lt. Gov. Calley's candidacy

Mon, 24 Apr 2017 15:05:38 +0000

Well, it’s now all but official: Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley is running for governor next year. Running, that is, to try to win the Republican primary in August 2018. He’s posted a video of a “countdown clock” on his website, and appears to be marching towards a formal announcement of his candidacy on May 30, during the Mackinac Policy Conference when the state’s political, business and media leaders get together. Last week, Congressman Dan Kildee, a man who may well run for the Democratic nomination, told me it is “too soon” to have to decide about running -- and it’s hard not to sympathize with that. The primary is more than 15 months away. Babies will be born before that election whose parents don’t even know each other yet. But the reality of politics today means you have to start running long before any election to have any chance at raising enough money to be competitive. Calley will actually be the second Republican to formally declare he’s running. Jim Hines, a little

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State senator changes his tune on term limits as his own deadline looms

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 15:15:57 +0000

By all appearances, Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof likes wielding power. He’s been in the Michigan Legislature for a decade, and he has been a strong, if controversial, leader of the Senate for more than two years now. But in little more than a year and a half, his political career will be over—probably forever. Term limits mean he won’t be able to run for re-election to the state Senate.

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A suitable tribute to Ernie Harwell

Wed, 19 Apr 2017 16:01:07 +0000

There’s a belief in some quarters that Detroit does not appreciate its history. The city, which was really a large town before they started making cars a century ago, exploded in size, going from fewer than 300,000 to 1.6 million people in 30 years.

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Will Dan Kildee run for Governor?

Tue, 18 Apr 2017 18:28:10 +0000

Long ago, way back in, say, the 1980s, there was something quaint about most elections in this country: Candidates did not actually begin running until the year of the election itself. We hold primaries in August and general elections in November, and it was thought that if you declared your candidacy in January, say, that would give you enough time to persuade voters.

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Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority to lose a good leader

Mon, 17 Apr 2017 15:59:07 +0000

I have to admit I was surprised four years ago when Tom Watkins was appointed head of the Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority. When I first knew him, Watkins was state superintendent of schools. That is, until Governor Jennifer Granholm pressed to have him fired for questioning some of her policies.

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A sentence that no one is happy with

Fri, 14 Apr 2017 16:15:01 +0000

Two summers ago, something happened that gave parents nightmares throughout the Detroit area. A 20-year-old camp counselor at a Jewish community center was discovered to have been secretly photographing little boys naked and posting them on a Russian child porn website. He also had written vivid fantasy descriptions of doing things to them, though a massive investigation turned up no evidence that he had ever touched a child.

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Why isn't Michigan better?

Thu, 13 Apr 2017 14:13:15 +0000

I’ve never met Chris Campbell, an attorney in Traverse City, but I’ve gotten thoughtful emails from him many times over the years. Mr. Campbell, who grew up in Bay City, loves this state.

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When lawmakers break the law

Wed, 12 Apr 2017 14:51:55 +0000

You have to feel bad for Michigan Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, a good and decent man who has the thankless task of heading a party so small it is more like a faction.

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Lessenberry on school closures and Detroit sports teams moving to Little Caesar's Arena

Wed, 12 Apr 2017 13:56:51 +0000

Hundreds of Detroit parents angered by school closure threats are having their kids opt out of the state's M-STEP test . They say the standardized tests are used to justify closures.

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Gamrat blames everyone but herself

Tue, 11 Apr 2017 14:13:03 +0000

I once saw former State Representative Todd Courser expound on how the welfare state was bad and people needed to take personal responsibility for their lives. Cindy Gamrat , his fellow representative, political soulmate and secret mistress, was nodding vigorously. Complaining about mythical welfare queens and other so-called predatory poor people is pretty much standard fare for the right wing, and has been, to a greater or lesser degree, since the New Deal .

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The New York Times and the truth

Mon, 10 Apr 2017 16:19:12 +0000

Less than two weeks ago, President Donald Trump launched his latest Twitter attack on the nation’s most important newspaper, the New York Times.

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Let's not forget the anniversary of our entering WW I

Fri, 07 Apr 2017 15:08:58 +0000

I was listening to one of the dumber stories of the week Thursday, about a Twitter squabble between two Republicans, a White House staffer and Congressman Justin Amash.

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A bill to provide death with dignity

Thu, 06 Apr 2017 15:28:26 +0000

State Representative Tom Cochran, a Democrat from the Lansing suburb of Mason, has introduced a “Death with Dignity” act to allow terminally ill people to ask for medication to end their lives. His bill is well-crafted to safeguard against abuses.

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The money to fix Michigan roads is too little, too late

Wed, 05 Apr 2017 18:07:12 +0000

For a few years, we were constantly hearing about how terrible Michigan’s roads were–and how the legislature kept ignoring citizens’ pleas to fix them. Then, a couple of years ago, lawmakers did enact what was billed as a road repair package . It doesn’t start providing any new money until this year, but four years from now, it's supposed to generate something like $1.2 billion a year to fix the roads.

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Creeping cancer at MSU

Tue, 04 Apr 2017 14:44:26 +0000

Forty-four years ago, in another early spring, a young lawyer went to the President of the United States and told him, “There's no doubt about the seriousness of the problem we've got. We have a cancer within -- close to the presidency, that's growing. It's growing daily. It's compounding. It grows geometrically now, because it compounds itself.”

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Trying to erode the separation of church and state

Mon, 03 Apr 2017 14:38:06 +0000

State Senator Patrick Colbeck of Canton is sometimes referred to as the “most conservative” or “furthest right” member of the legislature.

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Politicians from a different planet

Fri, 31 Mar 2017 14:47:10 +0000

More than twenty years ago, the late Texas Governor Ann Richards addressed the annual Gridron Dinner in Washington, a high-society affair where the nation’s top journalists mingle with politicians and Hollywood celebrities.

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We elect our judges, but they all get appointed

Thu, 30 Mar 2017 16:42:08 +0000

There’s always a debate as to whether judges should be appointed or elected. The one thing everyone agrees on, at least in theory, is that judges should be nonpartisan. Michigan has an odd hybrid system that manages to ensure that all these things are both true and false -- especially as far as the State Supreme Court is concerned.

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Can't we just force people on welfare to work?

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 17:18:24 +0000

Phil Clark is a hard-working 30-year-old who put himself through Eastern Michigan University, and now manages Ray’s Red Hots, a hot dog restaurant in downtown Ann Arbor that also operates mobile food carts throughout the state.

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Struggling with a crisis of confidence: The State of Michigan

Tue, 28 Mar 2017 14:42:34 +0000

Half a century ago, when he was still a very young man, Ann Arbor native Phil Power began buying small newspapers. He bought some, started others, and built a thriving enterprise of 64 community newspapers in three states.

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