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Stateside: Michigan’s first Native American caucus; firing of Flint water investigator

Cynthia Canty and Andrea Pierce in Stateside's studio
Katie Raymond
Andrea Pierce (right) is the co-founder of the new Anishinaabek Caucus in the Michigan Democratic Party.

Today on Stateside, the former special assistant attorney general for the state’s Flint water investigation shares his concerns over Attorney General Dana Nessel's decision to remove an independent legal counsel from that investigation. Plus, a co-founder of the recently-established Anishinaabek Caucus within the Michigan Democratic Party talks about the issues of concern to native voters. 

Listen to the full show above or find individual segments below. 

Gov. Whitmer’s new regulatory agency could change roll out of recreational marijuana

Stateside’s conversation with Matt Abel

  • Last week, Governor Whitmer signed an executive order eliminating the volunteer board responsible for considering license applications for medical marijuana businesses. The board will be replaced by the Marijuana Regulatory Agency, which will operate under the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) and approve licenses for both medical and recreational marijuana businesses.
  • Matthew Abel is an attorney with Cannabis Counsel, a law firm centered around cannabis cases and clients that serves patients, caregivers, dispensaries, and many other marijuana businesses. He joined Stateside to share his thoughts on the governor’s decision, and how he expects marijuana licensing and regulations to change under the new agency. 

Universities are being “short sighted” when chasing partnerships with companies like Amazon

Stateside's conversation with Jason Owen-Smith

  • Amazon's recent announcement that the company is backing out of plans to build a new headquarters in New York City and create 25,000 jobs prompted a lot of conversation about whether it's wise for cities to offer up tax incentives in hopes of luring a big prize. But what happens when colleges and universities re-shape themselves to suit the needs of mega-corporations like Amazon? 
  • Jason Owen-Smith is a professor of sociology and executive director at the Institute for Research on Innovation and Science (IRIS) at the University of Michigan. He wrote a piece forThe Conversation exploring "the perils of partnerships between higher education and business." He talks about how those perils played out in the failed Amazon deal in New York and the balance between offering a broad university education and producing graduates to fill the needs of local employers. 

New Anishinaabek Caucus aims to give more voice to Native American issues

Stateside’s conversation with Andrea Pierce

  • The recently-founded Anishinaabek Caucus within the Michigan Democratic Party gives its Native American members the opportunity to take a seat at the political table. Andrea Pierce, a member of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, is one of the founders of that caucus. She explains what she and other members felt was missing from the Michigan Democratic Party and some of the caucus's top priorities and concerns. 

Former Flint water investigator concerned AG Nessel will ignore evidence of fraud in DEQ, AG office

Stateside’s conversation with Noah Hall


  • On January 7 of this year, Noah Hall, who was then a special assistant attorney general for the ongoing Flint water investigation, made some explosive allegations on Stateside. He said the process of approving the Karegnondi Water Authority’s pipeline project was “riddled with fraud.” The KWA's project was the reason that state officials switched Flint's drinking water to the Flint River, a decision that lead to untreated river water corroding old pipes and causing lead to leach into the city's drinking water. A month after that interview aired, Attorney General Dana Nessel removed Noah Hall from his position. 
  • Today, Noah Hall joined us again to talk about the circumstances surrounding his termination and shares his concerns over the attorney general's decision to no longer employ an independent counsel in the investigation. 
  • Stateside reached out to the Department of Environmental Quality for comment. A spokesman for the Department of Environmental Quality said the department has no comment at this time.
  • We also reached out to Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office. Spokesman Dan Olsen sent us this response: “Our office adheres to the highest ethical standards, which is why we asked our ethics officer for a complete and thorough ethical review of how we brought the civil case against Veolia and other Flint water consultants back into the department. That report showed no ethical concerns.”
  • We also specifically asked if the AG plans to investigate the Office of Attorney General’s role in issuing bonds for the KWA pipeline. Olsen replied: “Investigations remain under the purview of the criminal side of the conflict wall and civil attorneys do not have any authority over those investigations.”

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