Most Read
  • The Ypsilanti mystery pooper saga continues

    Ypsilanti police are still searching for the person dubbed the “mystery pooper.” Someone has been, as the Associated Press politely puts it today, “soiling slides at an Ypislanti playground over the last six months.” So, of course, someone purchased an electronic billboard along I-94 near Huron St. at exit 183 that delivers multiple calls for action: For instance,”Help us flush the pooper.” The company that purchased the billboard, Adams Outdoor Advertising, knows how to reach the world in the 21st Century, branding each billboard with a hashtag for the public utilize in its efforts: #ypsipooper. WJBK-TV says the billboard also toggles through other rich lines, such as: “Do your civic doody, report the pooper #YPSIPOOPER” Also, “Help us catch the poopetrator #YPSIPOOPER.” Because you can have the runs, you can’t hide. They’re still looking for you, Mystery Pooper.

    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.

    It’s a really, very cool idea. Paxahau, the good people behind the Movement Electronic Music Festival, are hosting a series of warm-up events, or previews, to the big festival which takes place Memorial Day weekend. On Thursday evening, Movement moved into the Urban Coffee Bean on Grand River in Detroit. While Dj AvA and Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp ably worked the decks, the regular coffee shop goings on continued behind them. It made for an interesting and amusing webcast experience – one guy was taking a nap on camera, while others supped coffee and tappd their feet. It should come as no surprise – the Urban Coffee Co. people have always been big supporters of electronic music. The place includes a DJ stand, and co-owner Josh Greenwood encourages customers to bring their own vinyl and spin on the open turntables. Not on Thursday night though. This being a coffee shop, and it not being particularly late at night, the music remained pretty chill throughout. DJ AvA (real name Heather McGuigan) includes Beth Orton, Madonna, the B-52’s, Daftpunk and David Byrne among her list of influences, so you know that she’s capable of both whipping up a storm and also […]

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

  • Here is why landlords could do well in Wayne County

    CNN has a message to all prospective landlords: Head to Wayne County! Occupancy and rental rates are increasing, the report says, creating an opportunity for serious returns on investments. In fact, after comparing the median sales price of homes to average monthly rents in nearly 1,600 counties, RealtyTrac found that Detroit’s Wayne County offers landlords the best return on their investment in the nation. Investors who buy homes in the metro area can expect a 30% gross annual return from rents. That’s triple the national average of 10%. RealtyTrac, an online real estate information company, says the county offers investors low prices for larger homes — with a median price of $45,000. “We’ve got some steals here,” said Rachel Saltmarshall, a real estate agent and immediate past president of the Detroit Association of Realtors, told CNN. “There’s a six-bedroom, 6,000 square-foot home in a historic district selling for $65,000.” For more, read the entire report here.

    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

    The Detroit Electronic Music Festival, which was supposed to be making a triumphant return this year, has been canceled. A statement on the website says that the festival will be back in 2015. Back in November, Ford Field hosted an announcement party for DEMF, where it was revealed that a new DEMF festival would take place at Campus Martius Park in Detroit over the July 4th weekend. “I’m proud to be involved in the biggest and best electronic music festival in the world,” said Juan Atkins. “The future’s here. This is techno scene.” Not the immediate future, apparently. The DEMF people claim that the M-1 rail construction is partially to blame for the cancellation/12-month-postponement. Read the full statement here. Follow @City_Slang

    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

Bye-bye time for Brooks?

Could Oakland County's Patterson be on the way out?

Forty years ago, Oakland County voters elected L. Brooks Patterson their new prosecutor. He was brash, swaggering and highly quotable. The year before, he had latched on to an anti-busing activist named Irene McCabe, and rode her to prominence.

Though he would soon drop her cause like a used gum wrapper, Brooks realized bashing Detroit — especially Mayor Coleman Young — was a ticket to success.

Some years ago, I happened across a Detroit Free Press from September 1975. Sure enough, there was a quote from Brooks saying that he thought the government should fence off Detroit, treat it like an Indian reservation, and bring the inhabitants blankets and food.

Times have changed. Seven presidents have come and gone, the Cold War is over, Coleman Young is long dead, the Internet has replaced the IBM Selectric, and Oakland County is far more diverse.

Yet Brooks Patterson is still there. When he arrived, he was in his early 30s; he is now 73. Once tough and wiry, he is now fat and puffy, and his battles with booze are legendary. Twenty years ago, after giving up the prosecutor's office, he got elected county executive.

Earlier, badly thought-out attempts to run for governor, senator and attorney general left Brooks with three defeats in four years, and ensured he'd never rise above Oakland County.

But he made the most of it. When his current term ends in January, he will have been county executive exactly as long as his ancient enemy, Coleman Alexander Young, was mayor of Detroit.

Yet while Young probably stayed too long, he had the good sense and the bad lungs to retire after two decades. Patterson, on the other hand, wants at least one more four-year term. 

Oakland County has changed dramatically since Brooks first thundered out of Pontiac. The population, which quadrupled in the boom years after World War II, has leveled off at 1.2 million.

It has also become more diverse, with African-Americans in the majority in Pontiac and Southfield, and a steadily growing Asian population everywhere. Though it was once one of the most reliably Republican counties in the state, Oakland hasn't voted Republican for president since 1992. 

That's partly because the party has changed. Affluent Oakland County voters, especially women, are no longer comfortable with the hard-right, women-demeaning social-issue stand of the national GOP. But they still vote for Brooks.

He has been re-elected overwhelmingly, every time. Sure, he is occasionally embarrassing, and comes across more like an old-time political boss than a modern high-tech executive. But they feel that Patterson has kept the county solvent, and on the path to economic growth.

But that's what business turnaround expert Kevin Howley calls "the great Oakland County success myth." True, the county budget is still balanced, and services seem to work reasonably well.

However, Howley has an array of statistics that show things aren't what they seem. That, in fact, the decline started long before the so-called Great Recession; and that "unlike other regions of the country," prospects for property values recovering "do not look good."

Which is why Kevin Howley put his career on hold and decided to run against L. Brooks Patterson. 

Everybody told him there was no way he could win. But Howley, who grew up in the '60s and '70s in what was then mostly rural Farmington Hills, felt he owed it to his home turf, which he could see was rotting behind a PR-spun facade. Patterson, he concedes, "has done a masterful job spinning his accomplishments," mainly by comparing his kingdom to Detroit's current wretched circumstances.

"Is that really the standard by which Oakland residents want to set their expectations," asks Howley, who has lived and worked across the nation. "You know, this region is the only one in the country without regional transportation.

"You have to question why there is such a lack of vision," he says. Indeed, last year, he happened on a series of online cartoon animations by Free Press cartoonist Mike Thompson, "Quiet Desperation in Oakland County," showing that the Great Recession had indeed ravaged the place.

Howley, who moved back to Michigan in 2004, knew that it was even worse than the cartoons indicated. "Oakland County experienced job losses every year from 2000 to 2007 except one."

The population is aging, property values don't look like they're coming back any time soon, and Brooks' proud strategy of sprawl, sprawl and more sprawl is, Howley believes, not what young professionals want.

"Among all generations, there is a higher demand for community space like coffee shops or common areas like a village square" he says. "People are looking for 'place' rather than 'space.'"

Howley, who has never run for office before, didn't have to fight for the Democratic nomination; nobody else wanted it very much. But it would be hard to imagine, let alone find, someone better qualified.

What he is all about is community-based strategic planning. He knows his stuff: After graduating from Kalamazoo College, he earned an MBA and then a master's in public policy from Harvard.

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