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    The post The Ypsilanti mystery pooper saga continues appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: DJ AvA, Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp preview Movement at Urban Bean Co.

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    The post City Slang: DJ AvA, Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp preview Movement at Urban Bean Co. appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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    The post Here is why landlords could do well in Wayne County appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit

    This Saturday, audiophiles across the world will venture out to their favorite independent record stores in search of limited releases that quickly become collectors items. The third Saturday of April marks the fairly new international holiday Record Store Day. There are certainly dos and don’ts to know for RSD — like where to shop, and how to shop. That’s right, there is an etiquette to shopping on Record Store Day and violating that code makes you look like a real asshole. In my experience of celebrating Record Store Day, I’ve seen stores use a few different tactics as far as stocking the special releases. Some establishments will set up a table, somewhere in the store, where a few shoppers at a time can flip through records in a calm and contained manner. Other places will have a similar setup, with all the releases at a table, but shoppers ask the store employees for the releases they want. It’s like a record nerd stock exchange. This process gets loud, slightly confusing and incredibly annoying — this is where elbows start getting thrown. Then, there are places that put the releases on the shelves, usually categorized by size — twelve inches with the twelve inches, seven inches with the seven inches and […]

    The post The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled

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    The post City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards

    Despite a turbulent 2013 which saw Metro Times change owners, move buildings and change editors twice, we picked up eight awards at the Society of Professional Journalists Awards on Wednesday night. The big winner was Robert Nixon, design manager, who picked up a first place for “Feature Page Design (Class A)” for our Josh Malerman cover story, first for “Cover Design (Class A)” for our Halloween issue (alongside illustrator John Dunivant), and a second in that same category for our annual Lust issue. In the news categories, our esteemed former news editor and current contributing writer Curt Guyette won third in “General News Reporting” and third in “Best Consumer/Watchdog” – both Class A – for the Fairground Zero and Petcoke Series respectively. Music & Culture Editor Brett Callwood placed third for his Josh Malerman cover story in the “Best Personality Profile (Class A)” category, and former editor Bryan Gottlieb picked up a couple of Class C awards for “Editorial Writing” and “Headline Writing” (third and second, respectively). We were also pleased to learn that our investigative reporter Ryan Felton won first place and an honorable mention for work published while at the Oakland Press. The MT ship is steady now, […]

    The post Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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Politics & Prejudices

An Emergency Manager could be what Detroit needs

Maybe we should stop worrying and welcome the EM

"Let me make one thing perfectly clear: I don't want an emergency manager making decisions for my city."

—Detroit Mayor Dave Bing

 

"The city of Detroit DOES NOT need an Emergency Manager!!! BING JUST NEEDS TO SHOW SOME DAMN LEADERSHIP..." —City Council President Charles Pugh, via Facebook.

 

What I am about to say may get me a lot of hate mail but, sorry, I disagree. I think having the right emergency manager for a time might turn out to be a good thing for Detroit.

That's not a popular opinion among the people I naturally respect, hang with and gravitate toward. Ron Williams, the founder of this newspaper, and a man for whom I have infinite respect, sent me a plea recently to help fight this law.

He — like lots of other people — are outraged about the beefed-up emergency manager law passed this year, which, in his words, "allows the governor to appoint an 'emergency manager' to take over any city, town or school district."

Williams, who these days is fighting to create sustainable communities (happyfrogdetroit.com), correctly points out that such a manager now has the "power to dismiss elected officials, shred union contracts, sell public property, and even dissolve local government entities."

That's all true. The proposition that appointing an emergency manager to run Detroit would be awful is pretty much an article of faith among those who call themselves progressives, liberals or identify with those communities dedicated to civil rights and civil liberties.

So why do I think this might be a good thing? For the following reasons:

Detroit government is terribly broken and dysfunctional in a way it has so far proven impossible for elected leaders to repair. The basic problem is this: What was once a prosperous city of nearly 2 million people is now a largely dilapidated and shrunken one of barely 700,000 mostly very poor people.

In addition to vast debts and a current budget deficit, the city has a social services and public employee sector built for a larger, richer city, and can no longer sustain it. Especially not in the face of massive revenue cuts from the state.

There have been layoffs and more salary cuts and layoffs and salary cuts, and as I write this, the mayor and the council are squabbling further about how many more workers to dump.

Alas, none of this will work, except to slightly postpone the inevitable. The city is trying to deal with its problems by using "salami tactics" — cut a little and then a little more — and is instead dying a death of a thousand cuts.

Whether the city runs out of cash next April or July or limps along to September really doesn't make very much difference. What's needed is to start all over again — some equivalent of zero-based budgeting, and that can only realistically happen under an emergency manager.

Yes, they may throw out union contracts that are no longer sustainable; this will happen in some form anyway.

There are two recent, real-world examples that have helped me come to this conclusion — one from the public sector, one from the private. The first is Hamtramck, which landed under what was then called an Emergency Financial Manager back in 2000, largely because of the irresponsibility of many generations of its politicians. Lou "Bud" Schimmel was appointed EFM then, and made a lot of decisions that were wildly unpopular. But they also got the city back on its feet, and it emerged much healthier seven years later.

Everybody — all the politicians — hated Schimmel, but when he was there they would take me aside and say off the record, "Look, he's an SOB, but we know we needed him; the place was a mess."

The even bigger example was what was once the world's biggest corporation, an outfit called General Motors. Less than three years ago, it too was on the rocks, and it went to the government and begged for a bailout. Essentially, President Obama became GM's emergency manager, and soon sent in a surrogate.

What was the result? The company was reorganized; dead wood was pruned; it became leaner and meaner and today has returned to health and is making billions of dollars.

Ideally, that's what will happen with Detroit too. Not without pain, lots of pain. But that may be a good thing too. The needs and suffering of the Motor City may be laid bare for all to see.

Now, there are, of course, risks. Williams believes the emergency manager law is really all about protecting and advancing corporate interests. There is certainly some truth in that.

But while Gov. Rick Snyder does seem to have an almost childlike faith in the private sector's ability and eagerness to create jobs — a faith not justified, in my opinion — he is not a union-hating ideologue, like his counterparts in Ohio and Wisconsin.

He also knows that, in the case of Detroit, a rational plan for "protecting and advancing corporate interests" means restoring the city to the point where it can provide services and educate and provide jobs for its people. A public version of the "cushioned bankruptcy" that GM went through might help get us there.

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