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  • Planet Ant presents A Steady Rain

    The Planet Ant Theatre in Hamtramck will present a police drama called A Steady Rain May 2 through 24. Planet Ant veterans Ryan Carlson and York Griffith will star in the play, written by House of Cards and Mad Men co-writer Keith Huff. Tickets ($10-$20) are on sale now at PlanetAnt.com. According to the press release, “A Steady Rain by Keith Huff focuses on Joey and Denny, best friends since kindergarten and partners on the police force whose loyalty to each other is tested by domestic affairs, violence and the rough streets of Chicago. Joey helps Denny with his family and Denny helps Joey stay off the bottle. But when a routine disturbance call takes a turn for the worse their loyalty is put to the ultimate test.First produced at Chicago Dramatists, A Steady Rain appeared on Broadway featuring Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig. The Planet Ant production of A Steady Rain is directed by York Griffith featuring Ryan Carlson and Andy Huff. This marks the return of two of Planet Ant’s founding members. Carlson and Griffith. Griffith has served as the theatre’s Artistic Director where he directed the critically-acclaimed productions The Adding Machine and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? […]

    The post Planet Ant presents A Steady Rain appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • You can wear Detroit’s blight on your face

    There is no easy answer to the question regarding what should be done with Detroit’s abandoned homes. However, an Eastern Market company has a solution that could reflect Detroit’s possibly bright future. Homes Eyewear has set out to make the city a little more stylish, and do their part in cleaning it up by repurposing select woods from neglected homes for sunglasses. All of the wood that Homes uses is harvested from vacant houses with the assistance of Reclaim Detroit. A lot of work goes into prepping the wood to be cut and shaped into frames. Homes goes through each piece to remove nails, paint or anything else detrimental to their production (it’s a bit strange to think that your wooden sunglasses could have had family portraits nailed to them). In order to produce more durable eyewear, they salvage only hardwoods like maple or beech, which are difficult to come by as most of the blighted homes were built with softer woods like Douglas fir and pine. If you’re worried about looking goofy, or shudder at the thought of salvaged wood resting on your nose, you can rest easy. Homes currently offers frames in the popular wayfarer style and are developing their unique spin on the classic aviators. For as […]

    The post You can wear Detroit’s blight on your face appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Lily Tomlin coming to Ann Arbor

    Detroit home-girl Lily Tomlin will perform at the Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor on Saturday, June 14. A press release reads, “Get together with Lily Tomlin for an unforgettable night of fun and sidesplitting laughter. “Tomlin is amazing” The NY Times and “as always a revelation.” The New Yorker This unique comic artist takes her audience on what the Washington Post calls a “wise and howlingly funny” trip with more than a dozen of her timeless characters—from Ernestine to Mrs. Beasley to Edith Ann.” “With astounding skill and energy, Tomlin zaps through the channels like a human remote control. Using a fantastic range of voices, gestures and movements, she conjures up the cast of characters with all the apparent ease of a magician pulling a whole menagerie of animals from a single hat.” NY Daily News “Her gentle touch is as comforting as it is edifying.” NY Time Out She has “made the one-person show the daring, irreverent art form it is today.” Newsweek Her long list of awards includes: a Grammy; two Tonys; six Emmys; an Oscar nomination; two Peabodys; and the prestigious Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Find more info here. Follow @City_Slang

    The post Lily Tomlin coming to Ann Arbor appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Welcome Valerie Vande Panne, the new Detroit Metro Times editor

    The Detroit Metro Times, Detroit’s award-winning alternative weekly media company, is proud to announce the recent hire of Valerie Vande Panne as Editor-in-Chief. An award-winning independent journalist and Michigan native, Vande Panne’s work has appeared in Crain’s Detroit Business, The Daily Beast, and Salon, among other publications. Previously, Vande Panne attended Harvard University and was a regular contributor to The Boston Phoenix, and a news editor of High Times magazine. She has spent years covering drug policy among other subjects, including the environment, culture, lifestyle, extreme sports, and academia. “Valerie understands our business and what we expect to accomplish in Detroit. She has an excellent sense for stories that will move our readers, as well as experience with balancing print and digital content. I’m excited to have her at the paper and trust her leadership as we move forward,” said Detroit Metro Times publisher Chris Keating.

    The post Welcome Valerie Vande Panne, the new Detroit Metro Times editor appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Joumana Kayrouz to cover ‘Metro Times’

    She welcomes you when you enter Detroit, from every direction, with the one word that might just be Detroit’s biggest philosophical question: Injured? Joumana Kayrouz is deeper than the inflated image watching over Detroit, peddling justice to the poor and broken of the city. This Wednesday, Drew Philp takes us behind the billboard and into the heart of the Kayrouz quest. (And all of Brian Rozman’s photos of Kayrouz have not been retouched.) Check out MT‘s cover story, on newsstands Wednesday!

    The post Joumana Kayrouz to cover ‘Metro Times’ appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Fire at PJ’s Lager House, no people hurt

    There was a fire in an upstairs apartment at PJ’s Lager House on Monday evening. No people were hurt, although three cats belonging to the tenants died after CPR. The fire broke out around 10:30 p.m. during a show featuring Zombie Jesus & the Chocolate Sunshine Band, Curtin, and Jeffrey Jablonsky. “We just smelled smoke and someone yelled everyone has to get out,” 33-year-old Nick Leu told MLive. On the Lager House Facebook page in the early hours of the morning, a post said, “We at PJ’s lager House would like to thank everyone for their care and concern. Also, a very big THANK YOU to all who stepped up to do what they could this evening. The fire was contained to the upstairs but due to water damage in the bar, we will be closed until it can be assessed. Everyone is safe and we will keep you updated.” A later update read, “Update from the big boss. Since there was no damage to the stage side of the bar, the show will go on tomorrow! You may have to enter through the back door and there may not be a large selection of booze but we are going […]

    The post Fire at PJ’s Lager House, no people hurt appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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Stir It Up

Are Bing and council playing politics over our budget crisis

Without a unified vision of where Detroit must go, we'll just get the unkindest cuts of all

I'm kind of clueless as to the reason for Mayor Dave Bing's big speech on the city's finances last week. Not that our cash-strapped situation isn't worth addressing. But immediately after the Nov. 16 speech, a City Council member disavowed it, saying the mayor's suggestions had not gone far enough in addressing the budget shortfall. The governor released a cryptic response, saying that he expected the city to submit to a "preliminary financial review" soon. A preliminary financial review is a step in the process of an emergency manager possibly taking over the city.

It seemed that the mayor was out there flapping in the wind alone. At a time when I expected a show of unity — after all, our current council is supposedly the one that was going to get along with the mayor — Bing was forging ahead without the support of council or the governor.

Was it ego that made him do it? Was it because his agenda is different than that of others? Has his impasse with police and firefighter unions become personal? Indeed, his unilateral decision to present the plan to the public is what you'd expect from the emergency manager he threatens is coming if we don't do his bidding.

Consider this: A committee made up of City Council President Pro Tem Gary Brown, Councilmember Ken Cockrel and representatives from the mayor's office had been meeting for about three weeks to hammer out this plan. They met as recently as two days before Bing's speech.

But that night, "I was surprised to hear he was going to be doing this speech," Cockrel says. "We have all been participating in a joint committee to come up with a joint plan. Frankly I was surprised to hear on Monday night that he was giving the speech on Wednesday. The plan we have been working on has not been finished and the recommendations have not been finalized. That's the sort of thing his people should have brought to City Council. It was a little bizarre to me that he even did the speech, although some of it was along the line of things we've been discussing."

Two other council members didn't return my calls, although they all had plenty to say at a Monday morning council meeting. The biggest difference with Bing is the amount of layoffs necessary to achieve a balanced budget. In his speech Bing called for an unspecified number of city employee layoffs. Then, in the days following, he said there would be 1,000 layoffs by Feb. 1.

"Any plan that doesn't start with 1,500 layoffs is not going to get it done," says Cockrel. "It could go up to 2,300. He's got to come to grips with this. The other thing is that police and fire cannot be sacred cows. He didn't say there wouldn't be layoffs in those areas, but he came pretty damn close."

At Monday's meeting, council looked at how 1,700 or 2,300 layoffs would affect the budget and the city. In those scenarios they considered as many as 500 police and firefighter layoffs. And some questioned waiting until Feb. 1.

It may seem like a contest to see who can be the biggest Grinch, but council says that Bing's numbers don't add up. They say that 1,700 layoffs would balance the budget if police and fire unions accept 10 percent pay cuts and pay for 30 percent of their health care. If the city lays off 2,300, the budget would be balanced even if the pay cuts don't materialize.

"We have to adopt a strategy that is not dependent on getting givebacks from unions and retirees," says Cockrel. "It's better to just try to structure a strategy that says we're going to do this if we don't get anything at all from the unions. Then anything you get from them is just gravy."

One thing council agrees with, and something council member JoAnn Watson has been out front on, is going after the $220 million Bing said the state owes the city. 

"Us standing together with the mayor, that's a hallelujah moment," says Watson. "We missed it. We need to work out of the same playbook. The citizens need hope. ... We got the mayor putting it on the agenda. The city is still abiding by the agreement that the state has reneged on."

The $220 million stems from a 1998 agreement between the Archer and Engler administrations — Public Act 532, addressing revenue sharing, which was tie-barred to Public Act 500, addressing Detroit tax reductions. Essentially the city agreed to lower its income tax for residents by 0.1 percent each year from 1998 to 2007. That would drop the income tax from 3 percent to 2 percent. The state would in turn share a larger percentage of revenues from sales taxes. In fiscal year 1998 that amount came to $333.9 million for Detroit. However two things happened: A couple of months before Engler left office in 2003, the Legislature changed the revenue sharing formula so that Detroit got less; and the economy started tanking so the state had financial problems of its own, including lower sales tax revenue. Detroit got $220 million less than anticipated through fiscal year 2007.

Another piece of the argument is that Detroit's income tax never got down to 2 percent — it now rests at 2.5 percent. However, part of PA500 that said if Detroit could prove it qualified for three out of four provisions it didn't have to roll back its taxes. Those provisions are: If city unemployment exceeds the state average; if income tax collections are lower than the state average; if property tax collections are less than the state average; and if the city could prove it had no savings. We pretty much fit the bill on all counts.

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