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  • Rovers Scooter Club Celebrates 10 Years

    Rovers Scooter Club, a local gang dedicated to celebrating and riding motor scooters, will be celebrating its 10 year anniversary this week with a very special ride. Motor City Shakedown, the annual birthday party for the club, will commence this Friday, August 1 at New Way Bar. DJ Grover from Cincinnati will be spinning northern soul, reggae, and ska, according to club member Michael Palazzola. Saturday will feature a ride from Ferndale to Detroit, starting at noon at M-Brew. Palazzola says this is where most bikes will congregate before taking the ride to the city and folks will be prepping by getting some grub starting at 10 a.m.  Detroit’s Tangent Gallery will host the after party,  a special event that will feature performances by several bands as well as Satori Circus. That portion of the event will commence at 8 p.m. with performances starting at 9 p.m. It’s free to riders, but the public is welcome to join the party with the mere cost of a door charge. Come midnight, the club will raffle off a vintage Lambretta LI 150. Sunday morning will end the weekend of festivities, with brunch taking place at the Bosco in Ferndale.   

    The post Rovers Scooter Club Celebrates 10 Years appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Lessenberry on the battle to ban the Metro Times

    Turns out, our very own Jack Lessenberry knows the Grosse Pointer seeking to ban the MT: Ten years or so ago, a woman named Andrea Lavigne sat in on some media survey classes I was teaching at Wayne State University. She was in her late 30s or early 40s, and seemed to be searching for answers. She wanted to know how the media work, and told me she was a Maoist. This fascinated me, because I thought authentic Maoists were almost as rare as passenger pigeons. Chairman Mao, we now know, starved to death and slaughtered tens of millions of his own citizens, and kept China economically and intellectually backward. Intrigued, I got together one night before class with her and another Maoist, to find out what they were all about. Alas, they spouted a form of primitive, grade-school Marxism. They seemed to have very little historical knowledge of Communism or what it had actually been like. Yes. A Maoist. Read the full story at Michigan Radio here.

    The post Lessenberry on the battle to ban the Metro Times appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit residents sue incinerator owner over ‘noxious odors and contaminants’

    A class-action lawsuit has been filed against the owner of Detroit’s municipal solid waste incinerator Monday, accusing the company of nuisance and gross negligence violations According to the complaint filed by Detroit-based Liddle & Dubin P.C., “On occasions too numerous to list, Plaintiffs’ property including Plaintiffs’ neighborhood, residences and yards were physically invaded by noxious odors and contaminants … As a direct and proximate result of the Defendant’s’ negligence in operating and/or maintaining the facility, Plaintiffs’ property has been invaded by noxious odors.” The eight-page complaint charges that local property values have dropped due to the incinerator’s presence, “and has interfered with Plaintiffs’ use and enjoyment of their property.” The lawsuit, filed in Wayne County Circuit Court, seeks a financial award in excess of $25,000 and all costs and attorney fees related to the case. In an email, a spokesperson for the company says, “Detroit Renewable Power is reviewing the complaint filed today,” but declined further comment. The suit comes weeks after a Metro Times’ cover story earlier this month found a growing number of odor complaints from nearby residents since Detroit Renewable Power LLC (DRP) took control of the facility in 2010. The investigation found a spike in citations from the Michigan Department […]

    The post Detroit residents sue incinerator owner over ‘noxious odors and contaminants’ appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Winners announced for the ‘High Times’ Medical Cannabis Cup

    The High Times Medical Cannabis Cup is more than just a celebration — although with the recent shift in attitudes toward marijuana legalization, there certainly is much to celebrate.  HT‘s Danny Danko described it as “just like any other harvest festival or a county fair where people bring their best produce, their best pigs and horses and cows, and they compete with each other for bragging rights, basically.” Here are a list of winners from this year’s Cannabis Cup, who did indeed walk home with some well-deserved bragging rights — if anyone knows their marijuana it’s High Times: Indica 1ST - Oasis Medical Seeds - Paris OG 2ND - Herbal Solutions - Alien Dawg F2 3RD - Herban Legendz, LLC - Grape OX Sativa 1ST - Arborside Compassion - CATFISH 2ND - Organibliss - Ghost Train Haze #1 3RD - We Grow Education and Collective Centers - MelonGum Hybrid 1ST - Herbal Solutions - Gorilla Glue 2ND - Pure West Compassion Club - Death Star 3RD - Kushman Veganics for Buds & Roses - Veganic Candyland Concentrate 1ST - Mr. B’s Extracts - Raskal’s Lemon 2ND - 710 Savant - Kosher Kush Dewaxed 3RD - Oasis Medical / Vader Extracts / Dab Vader - Candy Jack Shatter Non-Solvent Hash 1ST - NLG - Jedi Kush Ice Wax 2ND - Arborside Compassion - HeadCandy Kush Hash 3RD - New World Seeds Resource […]

    The post Winners announced for the ‘High Times’ Medical Cannabis Cup appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Satanists Leverage Hobby Lobby Ruling In Support of Pro­Choice Initiative

    So is the title of the press release we received this morning from The Satanic Temple. You may recall our interview with Doug Mesner from earlier this year. The Satanic Temple is, perhaps, best known for trying to build a child-friendly monument to satan in OKC: How Mesner and TST are rocking the Hobby Lobby ruling is interesting: The Satanic Temple Leverages Hobby Lobby Ruling to Claim Exemption From State Mandated ProLife Materials Reads the next line of the press release. And then their website: A number of states require that abortion providers give information to patients that maybe inaccurate or misleading. Demands that members of the Satanic Temple, or those who share our beliefs, be subjected against our will to anything but the best scientific understanding are a violation of our religious beliefs. Thanks to rulings such as Hobby Lobby, we can take a stand against these practices. Mesner points out how the Hobby Lobby ruling bolsters their position: While we feel we have a strong case for an exemption regardless of the Hobby Lobby ruling, the Supreme Court has decided that religious beliefs are so sacrosanct that they can even trump scientific fact. This was made clear when […]

    The post Satanists Leverage Hobby Lobby Ruling In Support of Pro­Choice Initiative appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Reports from the ‘High Times’ Medical Marijuana Cup in Clio

    On Saturday we set out to check out the High Times Medical Marijuana Cup in Clio, Mich. — High Times did hold a Cannabis Cup in the Motor City back in 2011, but Detroit police flexing their muscles and making arrests at that event may have been to blame, at least partially, for the choice of a new host city. The event was held this year at the Auto City Speedway, (also known as “B.F.E.” to Detroiters). Nevertheless, the prospect of stopping at the Torch for the best burger in the Genessee County was compelling — and anyway, this was the Cannabis Cup we were talking about. Was it really going to be “work?” It turned out, just a little bit. An inexplicable lack of an on-site ATM meant hiking quite a ways up the road to the nearest gas station, and then waiting for an attendant to restock the ATM with cash. We spoke with plenty of Cannabis Cup attendees at the gas station — everybody knows that the local gas station is a stoner’s best-friend. The two-day festival, for which one-day tickets were sold for $40, was divided into two sections — a general area and a medicating […]

    The post Reports from the ‘High Times’ Medical Marijuana Cup in Clio appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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Countdown for Detroit

Beyond census figures: The hard data that we need to know

The numbers are in. The 2010 census sets Detroit's population at 713,777, about a 25 percent drop. The only other big city to lose a higher percentage of its population is New Orleans, which clocked a 29 percent loss with the help of Hurricane Katrina.

We are now the 18th (formerly fourth) largest city in the United States, checking in between Columbus, Ohio, and Memphis, Tenn.

The population drop from 951,270 in 2000 means more than just fewer people in the D. We'll probably lose millions of dollars in revenue sharing funds doled out by the state; we'll have fewer representatives in Lansing, and lines for congressional districts will be redrawn in a way that gives the city less political clout.

City politicians bemoaned the numbers, claiming that the census undercounted Detroiters, and vowed to appeal the result. City Council President Charles Pugh said that he thought the count was about 100,000 short, saying that thousands of Detroiters use suburban addresses in order to get lower car insurance rates and that there are thousands of Detroiters in prisons who will return to the city when released from custody.

Well, that's one way to embrace our high percentage of ex-felons. But it seems he's grasping at straws, which wouldn't be unusual around here with the various crises the city faces.

Adding to those problems is the fact that about 100 state laws specifically targeting Detroit will probably have to be rewritten because they are tied to the size of its population.

That's because state laws can't name a specific city, so population has been used to single Detroit out from every other city in the state, none of which has a population of more than 200,000. Now it looks like the magic number of 750,000 will need to be lowered if the city is going to be able to continue taxing at current levels, for example, or run a health department. The ability to license casinos is another issue that's tied to population.

Kurt Metzger, director of the nonprofit Data Driven Detroit, says, they'll have to "get legislation changed to cities of 500,000 or more. When Detroit's population dropped under 1 million they went to the 750,000 standard."

Metzger doubts that any appeals will make much difference. "The city didn't get prepared for the census," he says. "The city didn't have the resources to do that. There might have been an undercount. ... There is a specific process to the challenge, and after the fact it's very difficult to change the results. They're never going to find another 40,000 people through the processes that are open to them."

Here's another hard fact from the census numbers: Detroit's population loss wasn't just a matter of city dwellers fleeing to the suburbs; Michigan was the only state to lose population over the past decade — many of them young, well-educated people who view their home state as a rust-belt relic with little to offer in a high-tech future.

"The census confirms the data that we've been looking at. It's confirming, but not surprising," says Lou Glazer, president of Michigan Future Inc., a nonpartisan think tank based in Ann Arbor. "Compared to the rest of country, we got substantially poorer, more aged and less educated."

Among other things, that data should wake up the state to the fact that we are all facing big problems together. Gov. Rick Snyder has acknowledged this in general, and his response to the census results echoes that. "Michigan will not succeed if Detroit and other major cities don't succeed. We all must be partners in Michigan's reinvention," he said.

The people at Michigan Future agree with Snyder's analysis of the situation but disagree with his strategy to fix the state's economy, which first and foremost has been to cut business taxes. That's a strategy that Paul Hillegonds, a former politician who's now senior vice president of corporate affairs and communications for DTE Energy, once supported but now calls into question.

In a February address to students at Grand Valley State University, he said, "In the past dozen years, state and local taxes have been reduced by what is now over $6 billion annually, moving Michigan to a tax burden below the national average ... and state general fund revenues 42 percent less in inflation adjusted dollars than when I left the state House 14 years ago. Yet lower taxes and spending have been accompanied by slower economic growth in Michigan than in the rest of the nation."

That's a data driven assessment from someone who should know. Hillegonds served as a Republican in the state House of Representatives from 1979 to 1996 and as president of Detroit Renaissance from 1997 to 2005. He currently sits on the board of Michigan Future and the Center for Michigan.

"When I was in the Legislature, I was a part of creating the problem," Hillegonds told me over the weekend. "I made the mistake. Having worked for 15 years in the city of Detroit, through my experience at Detroit Renaissance and DTE, you realize that a cornerstone of urban revitalization is K through 12 and higher education. You need educated twenty- and thirtysomethings who want to live in the city. You can't sustain that growth without some public investments. It's not that taxes are unimportant to the business climate, but a more highly educated workforce is more important."

Hillegonds has turned around on some issues because he paid attention to the facts rather than ideology. He pointed out some revealing statistics in his GVSU address.

"In 2008, of the 55 U.S. metro areas with populations of 1 million or more, Detroit ranked 33rd in knowledge-based industries concentration, 36th in per capita income and 37th in college attainment. Metro Grand Rapids lagged even more, ranking 54th in knowledge-based industries concentration, 53rd in per capita income and 45th in college attainment. Over the past 10 years, state funding for higher education has been cut by 27 percent. Michigan is now 42nd among the 50 states in per capita support, reflecting the fact that higher education has been a less important state priority than prisons and tax cuts. ... Michigan Future's analysis of extensive tax and economic data found that the most successful states are not characterized by low taxes. If anything, they tend to be more high-tax states than low. On the other hand, states with the lowest taxes tend to have lower per capita incomes, lower concentrations in knowledge-based enterprises and lower proportions of adults with four-year degrees or more."

Former Gov. John Engler played the west side of the state against Detroit. Apparently that didn't work, and the whole state is worse off for it. Grand Rapids could be a big-time place, but apparently Detroit-hating, tax-cutting and sending a lot of people to jail isn't the way. Gov. Jennifer Granholm wasn't much better.

I know it's hard to read through a bunch of numbers, but therein is the hard data that we need to know. And the bottom line is results. I'll leave you with a question that Hillegonds posed at GVSU.

"We all would like Mississippi's taxes and Minnesota's social and economic infrastructure, but there is no state in the nation that has both. Which fiscal strategy will we choose?"

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