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  • Detroit’s grand bargain still needs Lansing’s approval

    In this week’s Metro Times we took a look at the state legislature’s role in Detroit’s ongoing bankruptcy — in particular, how it must approve a $350 million pledge for the so-called “grand bargain” to remain intact. And, with last night’s announcement of a significant deal between the city and Detroit’s pension boards and retiree groups, the ball is Lansing’s court now. The new deal, first reported by the Freep, would cut general employees monthly pension checks by 4.5 percent and eliminate their cost-of-living increases. Police and fire retirees would see no cuts to monthly checks, while their cost-of-living increases would be reduced from 2.25 percent to 1 percent. Under the original offer, police and fire retirees cuts were as high as 14 percent, with general retirees as high as 34 percent, that is, if the groups rejected the “grand bargain,” an $816 million proposal funded by foundations, the state, and the DIA to shore up pensions. The sweeter deal for pensions, though, it must be noted, entirely relies on the state legislature approving $350 million for Detroit’s bankruptcy.  And while this broke after Metro Times went to press, that was the focal point of this week’s News Hits column — so, it’s worth repeating: The […]

    The post Detroit’s grand bargain still needs Lansing’s approval appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday

    This Saturday, April 19, is Record Store Day, and there is plenty going on in metro Detroit and Michigan. Of special interest to us is Chiodos’ 7” single “R2ME2/Let Me Get You A Towel,” Mayer Hawthorne & Shintaro Skamoto’s 7” “Wine Glass Woman/In a Phantom,” Chuck Inglish & Action Bronson’s 7” “Game Time,” Chuck Inglish & Chance the Rapper’s 7” “Glam,” Chuck Inglish & Chromeo’s 7” “Legs,” Chuck Inglish, Mac Miller & Ab-Soul’s 7” “Easily,” James Williamson’s 7” “Open Up and Bleed/Gimme Some Skin,” Black Milk’s 12” “Glitches in the Break,” Mayer Hawthorne’s 10” “Jaded Inc.,” Wayne Kramer & the Lexington Arts Ensemble’s 12” “Lexington,” and best of all, Ray Parker Jr.’s 10” “Ghostbusters.” We wrote about James Williamson’s release this week. Go shop. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Margaret Doll Rod to play EP release show in May

    Margaret Doll Rod will celebrate the release of her new EP, Margaret, with a show at PJ’s Lager House on Saturday, May 10. A statement reads, “The EP contains 3 new original songs and one Chrome Cranks cover with Italian actress Asia Argento singing background vocals. Margaret moved to Italy after the end of the Demolition Doll Rods where she still lives touring and performing festivals in Europe. The Dollrods were a Garage Rock force for over 20 years, opening for Iggy, Jon Spencer, The Scientist, The Monks and The Cramps. Margaret was the front person and principal songwriter for The Dollrods. Her chief musical foil was Danny Kroha, who joined the Demolition Doll Rods after the now legendary Gories called it quits. Margaret’s sister, Christine, on drums, rounded out the legendary trio. Margaret will do a special performance in the round that night with a 360 degree revolving stage and special guest DJ Adam Stanfel.” The bill will also feature the Stomp Rockets and the Volcanos. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Margaret Doll Rod to play EP release show in May appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Music review roundup

    Send CDs, vinyl, cassettes, demos and 8-tracks to Brett Callwood, Metro Times, 1200 Woodward Heights, Ferndale MI 48220. Email MP3s and streaming links to bcallwood@metrotimes.com. Ricky Rat’s Tokyo Pop/Glitter People (New Fortune) 7” single highlights all that’s great about the Trash Brats guitarist, but also his limitations. The man can write a bubblegum rock ’n’ roll song to match anyone in the city and most beyond. He’s also a killer guitarist, ripping out one throwaway riff after another with reckless abandon. He’s a machine. On his own though, without Trash Brats frontman Brian McCarty, his voice doesn’t have enough strength to do the songs justice. Not that you need to have the greatest voice in the world to sing this stuff – you don’t need to be able to perform vocal gymnastics – but you do have to be able to wail the tunes out. Both of the songs on this single are great, but you can’t help but wonder how much better they would sound with McCarty or somebody similar talking the mic. Still, as they are the songs are great fun. We’re just being picky. The Paper Sound’s Trajectories is a dense, atypically dark Americana-tinged album, unrelenting and […]

    The post City Slang: Music review roundup appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit launches website to auction city-owned homes

    “Neighbors wanted.” That’s the message on the homepage of buildingdetroit.org, a new website launched by the City of Detroit today to auction off city-owned homes to prospective buyers who pledge to fix them up and move in. “We are moving aggressively to take these abandoned homes and get families living in them again,” Mayor Mike Duggan said in a statement today. “There are a lot of people who would love to move into many of our neighborhoods. Knowing that other people are going to be buying and fixing up the other vacant homes at the same time will make it a lot easier for them to make that commitment.” The website to facilitate the auctions went live this afternoon. The first auction is scheduled to take place Monday, May 5. Officials said in a news release that one home will be auctioned per day, Monday through Friday. Fifteen homes are available for sale on the site, a dozen of which are in the East English Village neighborhood. Any Michigan resident, company, or organization that can do business in the state can bid, according to the website. Properties will be for sale for only one day, with bidding taking place from 8 […]

    The post Detroit launches website to auction city-owned homes appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Tickets for Steven Spielberg, John Williams summer concert sell out in 15 minutes

    In case you haven’t heard, two of the biggest names in film, Steven Spielberg and John Williams, are collaborating to put on a benefit concert for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra this summer. In case you wanted to go- well, you’re too damn late. The DSO says tickets to the June 14 concert were snapped up in a record-breaking 15 minutes after they went on sale at 9 a.m. today. The DSO has since released this statement to fans who didn’t snag seats: Our apologies to everyone who was unable to buy tickets this morning for our historic benefit concert featuring John Williams and Steven Spielberg. Despite increasing our phone and internet system capacity for the day, a surge of hundreds of ticket buyers purchased tickets in a matter of minutes, filling the phone lines and temporarily maxing out our web servers. After a one-hour pre-sale made available to donors and subscribers at 8am, we released additional seats at 9am to the general public, including seats available for as low as $30. All seats sold out immediately. The concert program seems nothing short of top notch: Williams will conduct the orchestra as it performs some of his most iconic tunes, such […]

    The post Tickets for Steven Spielberg, John Williams summer concert sell out in 15 minutes appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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Politics & Prejudices

Ain't seen nothin' yet

The wonderful places our new Republican leadership will take us

Well, everyone seemed positively giddy at our great leap forward last week, the one in which Congress finally voted to let openly gay servicemen and -women enlist, fight and die in America's colonial wars.

Some even saw it as a sign of progress that eight — count 'em, eight — Republican senators broke ranks and voted to, in the words of the president, "recognize that sacrifice, valor and integrity," are no more defined by sexual orientation than they are by skin color.

Naturally, John McCain shoved aside the lid of his crypt long enough to protest bitterly and moan that "there would be a great cost," which I took as a sign that he was worried about morale among our troops — who he believes are fighting the Spanish-American War.

"Colonel Teddy Roosevelt hates them poofsters," I suspect he was muttering under his breath. Of course, it's hard not to laugh out loud at the man who inflicted Sarah Palin on this nation when he talks about the cost of inflicting harm on society. I mean, it's like Typhoid Mary complaining about the dirty sink at the Laundromat.

Actually, repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell comes as a secret relief to the Republicans, the intelligent ones, anyway. People like L. Brooks Patterson have been warning them to back off gay-bashing, since nearly all young voters have openly gay friends. Nor is Dick Cheney the only right-winger with a lesbian daughter or gay son. This was a calculated decision, and will be followed by conservative support for gay marriage within a decade. (Not to say there isn't still hypocrisy; perhaps the most recognizably gay GOP senator voted against gays in the military. He comes from a deep red state, one where slavery itself may still be an issue.)

But forget all that.

Republicans are coming to power — and you're about to see who they really are. Two weeks from now, Speaker John Boehner, the man with the Tang-colored tan, takes control of the House, replacing much-maligned Nancy Pelosi.

Republicans won't control the Senate. But the Democrats are down to 53 seats, including political transvestite Joe Lieberman. That means they won't have the ghost of a chance of stopping any blocking effort by the Republicans.

What will their priorities be? We have clues. They see themselves as on a mission, first, to defeat President Obama in 2012. Make no mistake about it: If they thought saving the earth from a Martian invasion would somehow help the president win re-election, the GOP would be on the side of the Martians. Even when that isn't an issue, they aren't gonna be on your side, unless you are very rich and give them money.

Want proof? What was the main cause that they've been fighting for over the last few weeks: Allowing even those who make more than a million dollars to keep the tax cuts they were given by the Bush administration. Affects you, doesn't it? I thought so, Magglio. However, most of us don't make a million bucks a year. Only three out of every thousand Americans do. But that's who the Republicans in Congress care about. That's who owns them.

Bear in mind the GOP has been screaming about record deficits, and continues to be outraged that Democrats wanted to extend long-term unemployment benefits for those with no money at all. They are furious at the thought of the government spending a dime to see that poor people have minimum health care.

Their Jesus evidently tells them that money is needed to give millionaires even bigger tax cuts. They managed to blackmail President Obama into giving in to them, because otherwise there would have been not only no tax cuts for the poor and middle class; they also would have blocked extending unemployment benefits, which would have left hundreds of thousands of Michigan workers without anything to live on.

That's not the Republicans' only cause, however. Here are a few other things they managed to do for/to us in recent weeks — things they managed while Democrats still had healthy majorities:

• They blocked mine safety reform inspired by the April deaths of 29 coal miners in West Virginia. The National Association of Manufacturers opposed it because it would have made it easier to sue unscrupulous mine companies.

• Senate Republicans blocked the "Paycheck Fairness Act" which would have helped women get fairer pay.

• The same day they allowed gays in the military, Republicans killed the DREAM act, which would have allowed "illegal immigrants" who were brought here as children to gain legal status by attending college or joining the military — in other words, becoming just the kind of Americans we admire most. (GOP to world: Remember that American dream? Go fuck yourself.)

• Best of all, they defeated a bill to provide health-care coverage for those first responders on Sept. 11, 2001, who were sickened by exposure to the toxic fumes. An exasperated McCain called the idea of giving these people benefits ridiculous "fooling around."

So there you have it, a small list of things Republicans in the House have been able to accomplish in Congress as a heavily outnumbered minority. Americans were evidently so impressed, they just gave them a solid House majority.

I just can't wait to see what they do to us next.


Is Kwame John Engler's fault?
Nah, not exactly ... but now that I've got your attention: Few were surprised when a federal grand jury indicted the former mayor, his father Bernard the Bagman, and assorted shorter subjects on multiple corruption charges.

However, it was interesting that the indictment traced some of Kwame Kilpatrick's crimes back a decade, to when he was in the Legislature. And few noticed that something happened quite early that, if acted upon at the time, might have nipped his criminal career in the bud. Flash back to 2000, when Kilpatrick was the fast-rising 30-year-old minority floor leader in the Michigan House. Despite being a Democrat in the GOP-controlled House, the state gave him $800,000 for two nonprofits he said would help children and seniors.

Instead, it is alleged that much of it went to "personal expenses" for Kwame, his wife, Carlita, and to their longtime thuggish crony, Bobby Ferguson, to "refurbish the offices of Ferguson Enterprises." The indictment says the state budget office was unaware of what was really happening.

However, according to the Gongwer News Service, state officials had suspicions. Don Gilmer, then Gov. John Engler's budget director, noticed that after half the grant had been spent, Kilpatrick had never provided proper documentation. When he failed to provide it, Gilmer refused to release the second half of the grant money.

Good for Gilmer. But ... why didn't he, or other Engler administration officials, sound an alarm and start asking what KK did with the money? Why didn't anyone in Lansing demand an accounting? If they had, it might have saved a lot of people, mainly in Detroit, millions of dollars and a lot of heartache in the years that followed.

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