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” “Help us catch the poopetrator #YPSIPOOPER.” You can have the runs, but 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

Charting a future

Restarting Detroit from scratch — with a new attitude

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

Sheila Cockrel paused thoughtfully over dinner last week, considering something she's realized in recent years.

"Today's young adults — those in their 20s and 30s and 40s — have grown up with a Detroit in decline. They've never known anything else." That's sad, especially to someone old enough to remember the excitement of shopping downtown.

Yet she finds something positive about that, when she is talking to the young adults she teaches and mentors at Wayne State University, or the people she meets during the CitizenDetroit community workshops she runs for WSU's Forum on Contemporary Issues in Society program. Most young Detroiters, she finds, aren't tied to the battles of the past. 

"They want things fixed. They want a city that is run properly," with streetlights that work and cops that come when you are being robbed or murdered. They aren't especially interested in fighting old battles and even less in being part of the "victim culture." Detroiters want a city that works. But how do they get there?

The former councilwoman and I talked at length about the city we were born in, just a few hours after a circuit judge finally ended Corporation Counsel Krystal Crittendon's kamikaze charge, tossing out her misguided challenge to the consent agreement.

Had that not happened, the city would have swiftly run out of money, its politicians committing suicide by emergency manager.

But, once the judge ruled, things seemed to come together amazingly quickly. Not only was a program manager finally hired, but the city council finally and swiftly (!) named their two appointees to the financial advisory board, and appeared willing to work. Except, that is, for the three irreconcilables, Kwame Kenyatta, JoAnn Watson and Brenda Jones, who went off to sulk, or maybe wait for Lyndon Johnson to come back and give them federal billions to spend.

But assuming — and this is a big assumption — that everybody continues to work together — how can Detroit get out of its hole? Across-the-board slashing may possibly balance this year's budget, but is bound to leave the city even weaker than before.

Nobody knows what to do about the mountain of unfunded future obligations. So I decided to ask Sheila, who probably knows Detroit deeper and more intimately than nearly anyone else. 

Born in Corktown into an Irish family named Murphy in the fall of 1947, she was interested in social justice from the start, organizing her fellow girls in Catholic school. She defied her parents at age 19, when she went out to help those injured in what history called the Detroit riot. Eventually, she worked for and later married the great black radical firebrand Ken Cockrel (father of the present councilman), an attorney who served one term on council and left because he was frustrated over how little he could do.

Sheila worked successfully to have her husband's law partner Justin Ravitz elected to the old Recorder's Court bench. Meanwhile, her husband grew steadily more popular. Polls eventually showed that he could have been elected mayor whether or not Coleman Young ran again.

Ken Cockrel Sr. was thinking about such a run in April 1989, when his aorta suddenly burst, and he died on his kitchen floor. Sheila was a widow with a 3-year-old. She worked for the city, then served four terms on council, eventually chairing the budget committee.

She knew there is a time for fighting the system, a time for fighting for change from within — and a time when the system just doesn't work anymore. Three years ago, Cockrel saw where things were, and decided not to waste more of her life fighting ignorant and possibly unbalanced people. (See Conyers, Monica, et al.)

Now, she's fighting for a new Detroit. There isn't a white person in this state who has done more to prove their colorblindness and willingness to stand with those who struggle. But there is a time for common sense. "Even I know you have to keep your books in order." She doesn't think having an emergency manager means fascism.

"It is a management and accountability tool," she said. Like everyone else, she hopes the consent agreement succeeds. But she's not tremendously optimistic. Those who say they want reform aren't looking deeply enough. Doing across-the-board layoffs by seniority makes little sense in a time of extreme crisis, she told me.

"You have workers bumping into complex jobs in complicated departments they know little or nothing about."

When I said I thought it made no sense to lay off cops, she startled me. "Well, we really don't know if we can. We can't really tell how many police we need till we study what they do," she said.

Firefighters, she added, operated under a series of arcane manning rules that probably made sense in 1890, but may not now.

What those now trying to fix things really need to do is start from scratch. Examine what the city does, what it needs to do, and make the rational, tough and difficult decisions required.

But even if that happens — what about the billions in pension obligations that the city realistically never will be able to pay? "Well, you have to find some way of figuring things out," on what may amount to something of a needs basis, Cockrel said. 

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