Best of Detroit 2013
Public Square - Staff Picks
Our staff picks for Metro Detroit
Published: March 20, 2013
Best Place To Turn if Facing Foreclosure or Eviction
Detroit Eviction Defense
Here’s the thing about Detroit Eviction Defense: They get the fact that neither the court nor the banks (especially the banks) can be counted on when it comes to helping people avoid foreclosure or eviction. Some members of this coalition — self-described as a “network of homeowners, union members, faith-based activists, and community advocates” — have been involved in this struggle for years, and they’ve learned that what does work is public pressure and resistance. Protesting in front of banks and blocking Dumpsters from being parked in front of homes and packing courtrooms — that’s what works. And their ranks continue to grow because those helped become part of the movement. But you don’t have to wait until the sheriff is pounding on your door to get involved. Contact them at DetroitEvictionDefense@gmail.com or call AJ at 313-429-5009.
Best Detroit Statue to Visit
Hazen S. Pingree
Grand Circus Park
The statue itself is just some old-timey-looking guy in a double-breasted frock coat leaning forward on a chair trimmed with fringe. He looks kind of mean, actually. The words on the plaque attached to the statue’s base are the really striking thing about this tribute to the man who served as Detroit’s mayor and then Michigan’s governor at the tail end of the 1800s. A successful businessman and war hero, what made him the “Idol of the People” that the plaque describes him as was this: “He was the first to warn the people of the great danger threatened by powerful corporations, and the first to awake to the great inequalities in taxation and to initiate steps for reform.” He was a courageous visionary who looked out for the best interests of common folk, and Detroit could so much use someone with his heart and mind today.
Best Investigative Reporter on TV
WXYZ, Channel 7
The flash might be over at FOX 2, but the real goods are delivered by the investigators at Channel 7, with Jones’ work at the forefront. He’s the guy who broke the severance-pay scandal that led to a (still ongoing) FBI investigation of Wayne County government, and his scoop about the illegal real estate dealings of Diane Hathaway is the reason she’s a former Michigan Supreme Court Justice who recently pleaded guilty to felony bank fraud. All his good work has been earning Jones (who, to top things off, is a certifiably nice guy) bundles of awards. The Detroit Society of Professional Journalists named him the area’s “Young Journalist of the Year” in 2012, and he’s a big part of the reason WXYZ recently brought home an ultra-prestigious Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia Award for excellence in broadcast journalism.
Best New Addition to the Detroit Media Scene
This online-only effort features both original reporting and comment along with a daily round-up of all the top stories in the local, state and national media about metro Detroit. With Bill McGraw, who worked for the Detroit Free Press for 32 years, and Allan Lengel, who worked for the Detroit News and the Washington Post, at the helm, the quality is first-rate. The work of the irreverent, sharp-witted Jeff Wattrick is consistently a kick, and the lineup of contributing columnists features, among others, MT alum Sandra Svoboda.
Best Nonprofit Anniversary To Celebrate
Motor City Blight Busters
17405 Lahser Rd., Detroit
Come June, it will be 25 years since John George decided to address the decline of his Old Redford neighborhood on Detroit’s northwest side. He started by going over and boarding up an abandoned home that had been turned into a crack house. That act served as the starting point for what has become Motor City Blight Busters, one of the city’s most lauded — and downright effective — nonprofits. From that one-man crusade, the organization has become an institution that attracts some 10,000 volunteers a year who donate their time to, among other things, tear down or fix up abandoned homes. In this, its silver anniversary, Blight Busters is directing much of its effort into expanding its Farm City Detroit project from a pair of lots to two whole city blocks. They’d like nothing more than for you to come on down and help. Don’t forget to bring along your work gloves, because these folks are definitely focused on making many good things happen.
Best Way to Ensure Patients Have Access to Medical Marijuana
In 2008, 63 percent of Michigan voters declared that people suffering from certain ailments should be allowed to use marijuana as medication. The referendum they approved, however, failed to address the issue of dispensaries, and after the law was implemented, scores of these distribution joints began operating under a legal haze. In February of this year, the Michigan Supreme Court, in the case State vs. McQueen, essentially ruled that dispensaries were illegal. In terms of patient welfare, that was a horrendous decision. Instead of having safe and secure access to their medicine, patients were left hanging. Sure, they could grow it themselves (if health and living conditions permitted) or they could try and find a caregiver. But crops fail, and other things can go wrong. Which is why dispensaries are vital. Fortunately, state Rep. Michael Callton (R-Nashville) gets it. His solution is HB 4271, otherwise known as the Provisioning Centers Act. It seeks to give municipalities the authority to permit and regulate dispensaries. It is an important piece of legislation, and the best thing you can do to help a very large number of truly deserving patients is to urge your legislators to support it.
> Email MT Staff