Jack Lessenberry Daily interviews and essays about politics and current events with newspaper columnist Jack Lessenberry.
Jack Lessenberry

Jack Lessenberry

From Michigan Radio

Daily interviews and essays about politics and current events with newspaper columnist Jack Lessenberry.More from Jack Lessenberry »

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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, or

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 Tiger

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.

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. As a

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. Virgin

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 Review,

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

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 seemed

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