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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, 21 Jul 2017 16:45:40 +0000


Six months into President Trump's term, and the future is still uncertain

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 14:16:30 +0000

Hard to imagine, but man first walked on the moon exactly 48 years ago today. I think most of us thought we’d have had colonies there by now, but of course we don’t. That was a long time ago, but here’s something you may find even harder to believe. Six months ago, we woke up in a nation where Barack Obama was still president.

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Knowing when to fold 'em

Wed, 19 Jul 2017 18:15:47 +0000

When I heard that Mark Bernstein wasn’t running for governor, what instantly popped into my head was a line from Macbeth: "Nothing in his life became him like the leaving it." In other words, the best part of his campaign was his decision not to wage one. The immediate beneficiary is Gretchen Whitmer, whom Bernstein then endorsed.

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Lessenberry on gerrymandering, "Michigan Jobs First" plan, and wrongful convictions

Wed, 19 Jul 2017 13:18:04 +0000

A group called Voters Not Politicians is trying to get a question about gerrymandering on the 2018 statewide ballot. Gerrymandering refers to the process of drawing voting districts to favor certain politicians or populations. Their plan would create a 13-member citizens panel to oversee redistricting. It would be made up of five independent voters, four Democrats, and four Republicans. Senior political analyst Jack Lessenberry talks to Morning Edition host Doug Tribou about how this ballot initiative could change current voting districts.

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Petition drive tries to return Michigan to a true, representative democracy

Tue, 18 Jul 2017 14:33:09 +0000

The founders of our system attempted to give this country, and later this state, something called representative democracy. That’s supposed to mean electing people we trust to represent our best interests to make laws for the state and nation. That generally worked pretty well. Not that it was perfect, and for a long time some of us were shut out of participating. But eventually that got fixed.

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Want to carry a concealed gun without a permit or training? Michigan lawmakers want to help.

Mon, 17 Jul 2017 15:25:12 +0000

Whatever else you can say about us, this much is clear. No other so-called advanced, or civilized, or industrial nation has anything like the deaths from firearms we do. Yes, there will be murders committed with guns in Japan this year. Based on recent statistics, there will probably be 12 or 13 of them. Japan has about 127 million people. Michigan has less than 10 million, so if our culture was anything like Japan’s you might expect we’d have perhaps one murder committed with a firearm this year. Instead, we’ll have more than 1,000 gun-related deaths. If you live in Michigan, the odds are now greater that you’ll be killed by a gun than that you’ll die in a car accident. Notice I didn’t say murdered; we’ll have hundreds of those, but there will be even more suicides. And every year, some children will find their parents’ loaded weapons and manage to kill themselves. Three-year-olds are most likely to do this, according to a study by the Associated Press and USA Today . We’ve also

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By killing teacher pensions and striking sweetheart deal, lawmakers go full on Orwell

Fri, 14 Jul 2017 15:43:38 +0000

George Orwell’s classic Cold War novel 1984 depicted a world where everything was controlled by a nightmarish dictatorship where history was constantly being rewritten to suit the needs of the moment, and where the meaning of words was turned into their opposite: War is Peace, Ignorance is Strength, et cetera. I was reminded of that yesterday, when I got an Orwellian press release from the governor’s office.

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Detroiters should have a say on whether their school tax money gets used on sports stadiums

Wed, 12 Jul 2017 15:40:17 +0000

Let me start out by saying that Robert Davis, usually referred to as a Highland Park activist, is a man easy to despise. He has won a reputation as a gadfly who is constantly filing lawsuits demanding transparency in government and attacking corruption. Some see him as a crusading knight in shining armor and others as a relentless self-promoter trying to make a name and have us forget his past.

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Lessenberry on Little Caesars lawsuit, Gov. Snyder's tax incentive plan

Wed, 12 Jul 2017 12:58:48 +0000

Last month, Detroit city council approved $34.5 million in bonds to help pay for the Pistons move to Little Caesars Arena. That property-tax money would have gone to schools, but will now be reimbursed to the teams' owners. Now, the NBA and the companies that own the Detroit Pistons and Red Wings have been added to a federal lawsuit against Detroit's public school district. Activist Robert Davis filed the lawsuit. He says Detroiters should've been allowed to vote on how their tax money is used. Senior political analyst Jack Lessenberry tells "Morning Edition" host Doug Tribou whether he thinks Davis has a chance of winning the case.

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Disappointment so far from Coleman Young Jr.'s campaign for Detroit Mayor

Tue, 11 Jul 2017 14:15:40 +0000

State Senator Coleman Young II unveiled his plan for Detroit yesterday. He is running for mayor this year, and the odds are that he and incumbent Mike Duggan will be the two top vote-getters in the September primary, and go on to face each other in the general election. Actually, I had planned on talking to Senator Young Monday so I could tell you more about his campaign, and had scheduled an interview weeks ago. But his scheduler canceled it yesterday almost at the last moment, because, she said, he was going to be too busy unveiling his plan for the city. Unfortunately, I couldn’t read about it on his campaign website, because the provider said the campaign didn’t pay the bill, and they took the site down. The campaign did say they hoped to have a new website by today. Fortunately, Young’s mother emailed me a copy of his plan for Detroit. Now, many years of covering government have taught me this. The best thing that could happen to the city – and Mayor Mike Duggan himself – would be

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Michigan Constitution is clear: No state aid to private schools

Mon, 10 Jul 2017 15:43:32 +0000

The Michigan Court of Claims is not one of the highest-profile judicial bodies in the country, or even our state. It handles civil actions filed against the state and its various departments and agencies.

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Do our lawmakers care about what we want?

Fri, 07 Jul 2017 14:30:38 +0000

Lawmakers, we were taught in school, are sometimes torn between doing the right thing – and doing what their constituents want. John F. Kennedy wrote a Pulitzer-Prize winning book, Profiles in Courage , about that. But these days, it often seems as if those running our government are neither doing what is right nor what we want.

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Thinking rationally about Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline

Thu, 06 Jul 2017 18:22:02 +0000

For the Fourth of July, former Michigan attorney general Frank Kelley invited me to watch fireworks from the porch at the Captain’s Quarters overlooking the harbor on Mackinac Island. From there, I could see fireworks simultaneously from Cheboygan and Mackinaw City, in addition to those being fired from a barge not far offshore from the island.

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Want to save Detroit? Put its citizens to work

Wed, 05 Jul 2017 13:00:00 +0000

Everybody knows that Detroit has made it through bankruptcy, and that a remarkable coalition of people and politicians came together on a “Grand Bargain” to save the city. But now we need to start thinking about the next hugely important step, one that’s largely been ignored: Finding a way to bring many thousands of forgotten people into the workforce and make them economically and socially productive citizens.

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Lessenberry on Trump's voter fraud investigation and Snyder's veto of anti-abortion license plates

Wed, 05 Jul 2017 12:23:06 +0000

The Trump administration has created a commission to investigate allegations of voter fraud. States have been asked for detailed voter information. Michigan's Secretary of State Ruth Johnson says she'll comply with some of the requests , but will not send Michiganders' personal information. “Morning Edition” host Doug Tribou and senior political analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss Johnson’s response to the request.

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This July 4th, I will think about the nation we are supposed to be.

Mon, 03 Jul 2017 12:00:00 +0000

Tomorrow is the day we celebrate American independence with fireworks, picnics, and, for most of us, a day off from work. We’ll have picnics, flirt dangerously with firecrackers, see spectacular fireworks displays, and maybe, just maybe, think about the meaning of it all. Ask the average person why this day matters, and they’ll tell you it was when our Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence. Well, while the document is indeed dated July 4, 1776, they had voted to sign it two days before.

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Week in Review: Michigan sues Flint and Schuette calls for Line 5 shutdown

Sat, 01 Jul 2017 19:38:33 +0000

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality sued the City of Flint this week. The state says the city council's refusal to approve a long term deal to buy water from a Detroit-area system endangers a public already troubled by a lead-tainted water crisis . This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss the lawsuit filed by the state agency that's been blamed for much of Flint's water crisis.

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'Fake News' outlets don't fire reporters who make mistakes

Fri, 30 Jun 2017 15:15:48 +0000

Yesterday, before President Trump sent out his tweets about the hosts of the Morning Joe program, I was interviewed by a radio host in another city. He asked something to the effect of whether CNN and other mainstream journalism outlets actually put out fake news? I answered that they never do -- that while respected news outlets do make mistakes, they never invent news to push a political agenda. What was most dismaying was that the question was asked at all.

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Former Chief Justice Bob Young wants to become a U.S. Senator

Thu, 29 Jun 2017 14:57:49 +0000

Love or hate him, Geoffrey Fieger is an absolutely brilliant trial lawyer. I watched him through all the Kevorkian trials in the 90s, when he ran rings around the opposition. Then, 20 years ago, he told me he was thinking of running for governor, and asked me what I thought. I told him, with tongue firmly in cheek, that he should take what he was planning to spend on that race and give it to me instead, and we’d both be better off. Not that I would have taken his money, but for once, I was absolutely right. Fieger lost by almost 25 points. Unlike the courtroom, he was fighting in an arena he didn’t understand.

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Michigan Republicans and their "pay to play" politics shows they are out of touch

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 16:44:48 +0000

Ever think you might want to be lieutenant governor? It’s not all that stressful. Basically, you have only two real duties. You preside over the state senate in case there’s a tie vote, and you serve as standby equipment in case the governor dies or resigns.

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Lessenberry on Flint water crisis, Detroit schools, and a new Amazon facility

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 13:35:29 +0000

On Monday, the Flint City Council decided not to sign a 30-year contract with the Great Lakes Water Authority - at least, not yet. The GLWA is providing Flint's water for now, and it's also Detroit's water source. In the long run, the city could be on the hook for about $600,000 a month in additional if it doesn't sign it. The mayor wanted the deal, but the council didn't. “Morning Edition” host Doug Tribou and senior political analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss what this means for the future of Flint water.

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