WDET’s Mackinac Policy Conference Reporters’ Round-up

Jerome Vaughn, Sandra Svoboda and J. Carlisle Larsen join Stephen to discuss the takeaways from this year’s MPC.

Jerome tells Stephen that the battle over Detroit schools has been a significant topic at the conference, with Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan talking about his plans to get involved and take on some part of the enormous task. While the financial aspect of the schools is dire, Jerome notes that many at the conference have also acknowledged the potential academic consequences for DPS students.

In terms of Detroit’s historic bankruptcy, Sandra says this year’s conference has been very different from last year when “everyone was talking about the Grand Bargain,” and voting on the Plan of Adjustment. Now , the bankruptcy’s key players –Judge Steven Rhodes, former Detroit EM Kevyn Orr and Judge Gerald Rosen—are all in much different places than they were a year ago. She says the men gave a retrospective of sorts and were joined on the stage by Ford Foundation President Darren Walker, “who had some fresh things to say about philanthropy.” Sandra also notes the Ford Foundation was, by far, the largest contributor to the Grand Bargain, with a $125 million contribution.     

This year was J Carlisle Larsen’s first time at the conference and she says there’s really no way to distill everything that has taken place throughout the week. “I feel like the conversations I’ve been having are about how to make Michigan residents’ lives easier.” J, who spoke with Senator Gary Peters and Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, says there was also a theme of talent retention in some of the conversations with policy makers on the island.