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

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    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.

  • 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.



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Politics & Prejudices

Bing: Bobb should go

Chatting with the mayor about Detroit's future

Photo: , License: N/A

Robert Bobb may — or may not — want to stick around and continue to run Detroit's public schools. But that's not what Mayor Dave Bing wants. During a wide-ranging interview last week, I asked him about the controversial emergency financial manager.

"He's made some hard decisions that had to be made, and I respect him for that. He had an impossible job from a fiscal standpoint." But when asked to give Bobb a grade, the mayor said, "Well, not an A, I don't think. He's got the teachers' association [union] obviously against him, and he's got a lot of the people in the community against him." When I asked if it were time for Bobb to go, and time for somebody new, the mayor said, "Yes," and "Oh, yeah."

The interview took place the day before a front-page story in The Detroit News appeared to advocate keeping Bobb in place. For months, Bobb talked as if he was willing, if not eager, to return to Washington, D.C., when his hitch in Detroit expires June 30.

But then the Legislature passed a new emergency financial manager law that would give Bobb control over academic matters as well, something the courts earlier ruled was beyond his jurisdiction.

After that, hints began that he might be willing to stay. However, the mayor did not only say it was time for someone new to be running DPS. He indicated that he thought that the future of education in his city would soon be mostly not in the Detroit Public Schools.

"If they are going to lose students out of DPS, we don't want to lose them out of the city of Detroit. People are now talking about systems of public education, rather than DPS. There are private schools, parochial schools, charters." Mayor Bing paused.

"You know, 40 percent of kids now go to charter schools and that number is only going to grow." He noted that Robert Bobb has proposed closing another batch of schools by the end of this year. Mayor Bing worries about the effect of these suddenly vacant buildings on their surrounding neighborhoods, and hopes charters fill at least some.

What he doesn't want, however, is to take control of the schools himself, although in the past the mayor has spoken as if mayoral oversight of DPS might not be a bad thing. "I think adding their deficit to our deficit might be a little overwhelming," he said.

Despite a month of budget woes, steadily more ominous news from Lansing and shockingly low census numbers, Dave Bing seemed upbeat and energetic, two years into the job.

The mayor, who has already signaled that he's running for re-election in 2013, had been amusedly exasperated by a story that day that criticized him for spending too much time in the office and not enough time pressing the flesh in the neighborhoods.

He knows that if he started doing more events, another story would soon appear asking why he wasn't at his desk. He shrugged.

"You know, the expectations in this job are impossible. Today, they want you to be all things to everybody." The truth is, he said, that he had to spend "an inordinate amount of time" chained to his desk.

"Kwame didn't get a lot done his last year, because he was trying to stay out of jail. Then Kenny [Cockrel] came in, and I don't think he got a lot done, because he was trying to get elected mayor."

In May 2009 Bing came into an office drowning in deficits. When I last had a long interview with him, that November, Bing, a businessman for many years (Bing Steel, later the Bing Group) told me the budget figures left by the Kilpatrick gang were largely fictitious. He said he couldn't ask President Obama for help until he figured out what the true numbers were. Eventually, the bean counters came up with a deficit of $330 million, which the Bing administration has reduced to $155 million. Indeed, he said shrinking the shortfall that much — during a recession that, for Detroit, has never really ended — was his proudest "truly Herculean" accomplishment in office.

But he said that number might creep back up if Gov. Rick Snyder's budget becomes "stark reality." Much has been made of the staunchly Democratic mayor's uncommonly warm relationship with the new GOP governor.

Is Snyder in fact different from a conventional Republican? "Oh, yeah, yeah," Bing says, smiling. But does he understand the reality that is Detroit? The mayor's face turned serious.

"You gotta be in Detroit to understand it. He needs to understand that we are going to need a little [financial] handholding. I recognize that he has a lot of other urban cities with problems and that he wants to get everyone to a level playing field. But Detroit needs some help to get there."

Last year the mayor made headlines when he said that the city's true unemployment was something like 45 percent. Now, with a national recovery officially under way, what does the mayor think that number is now?

"About the same. It hasn't changed much," he said. There is some recovery nationally, but not in Detroit. (James Rhein, an economic analyst for Michigan's Department of Labor and Economic Growth, says the official figure for Detroit is more like 25 percent, but that doesn't count so-called "discouraged workers" who have dropped out of the labor force.)

There are those who think that it is only a matter of time before Detroit itself will have a state-appointed emergency financial manager.

"Everything we do here day-to-day is to avoid that happening," Bing told me. But he knows he can't rule it out.

What if a crisis hits and the governor were to offer to make the mayor the financial manager? My impression was that a part of Dave Bing would actually welcome the idea. "It would make it easier to do some things that we feel really need to be done," he said.

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