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  • Detroit area code 313 may be phased out

    Hey, everybody from the 313, start thinking of new numbers to rally around– the longstanding Detroit area code may be phased out. Our friends over at the Detroit News report that pending a revised estimate next week, the North American Numbering Plan Administration will stop handing out 313 telephone prefixes on new phone numbers. Detroiters with existing cell phone lines would be able to keep their current area codes, while those with land lines would change. via Detroit News: The venerable 313 will ultimately become overtaxed. Even as Detroit’s population has fallen, cellphone usage has accelerated like one of those smoldering SRT Vipers that Dodge has been bolting together at Conner Avenue Assembly — which is, of course, comfortably within the confines of 313. … When the first five dozen area codes were assigned nearly 70 years ago, says NANPA’s Tom Foley, “that was expected basically to last forever.” Instead, somebody invented fax machines, and then somebody else came up with cellphones, and lots of somebody elses decided to give them to 10-year-olds, and meantime the population grew to 300 million. Now every telephone carrier is required to submit twice-yearly forecasts of its needs in each area code, factoring in […]

    The post Detroit area code 313 may be phased out appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Final members selected for Red Wings arena Neighborhood Advisory Council

    Unfortunately, we were unable to attend last night’s Neighborhood Advisory Council, which, in case you were unaware, is a 16-member board established to weigh in on the new Red Wings arena near downtown. About three dozen residents and property owners cast ballots by the 8 p.m. deadline on Wednesday inside the Block at Cass Park, The Detroit News reports. It’s the culmination of a handful of community meetings which began weeks ago. Councilwoman Raquel Castaneda Lopez facilitated the meetings, but emphasized at previous meetings that it’s up to the community to conduct business. According to the News, the 12 candidates selected include: Michael Boettcher, Richard Etue, Jason Gapa, Francis Grunow, Steve Guether, Paul Hughes, Ray Litt, Warner Doyle McBryde, Karen McLeod, Delphia Simmons, Melissa Thomas and Anthony Zander. Joel Landy, a land owner in the area, lost his bid. The City Council appointed four candidates last month. As we reported in this week’s issue, the Neighborhood Advisory Committee was negotiated after Olympia Development of Michigan, Detroit Red Wing’s owner Mike Ilitch’s real estate arm, balked on a proposed community benefits agreement.  The committee is charged with the task of offering input on the arena’s design, parking security and more.

    The post Final members selected for Red Wings arena Neighborhood Advisory Council appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • James McMurtry and The Bottle Rockets coming to the Magic Bag

    The Magic Bag in Ferndale will host James McMurtry and The Bottle Rockets on Thursday, May 28, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20. A press release reads, “James McMurtry recently signed with the bourgeoning Los Angeles record label Complicated Game. The legendary songwriter will enter the studio later this month to start working on his first album in six years. “I’ve got a new batch of songs, organic and with no added sulfites, aged in oak for several years,” he says. “Francois Moret at Complicated Game seems to like these songs and (producer) C.C. Adcock thinks he can turn them into a record. Good times fixing to roll.” Label head Moret agrees. “In March 2013, when C.C. Adcock told me we were going to see James McMurtry at the Continental Club in Austin, I expected to see a good show,” he says, “but what I saw left me mesmerized! I immediately knew I wanted to sign him. As a European, it is an amazing opportunity to work with one of the most talented American singer-songwriters.” Evidence: McMurtry’s Just Us Kids (2008) and Childish Things (2005). The former earned his highest Billboard 200 chart position in nearly two decades and notched […]

    The post James McMurtry and The Bottle Rockets coming to the Magic Bag appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Dead Kennedys to have a holiday in Detroit

    The Dead Kennedys, still with local boy Klaus Flouride in the ranks, will play St. Andrew’s Hall on Tuesday, June 24. Alongside Flouride and fellow original members East Bay Ray and DH Peligro, the current lineup includes singer Ron “Skip” Greer, taking the place of Jello Biafra. Downtown Brown will open that show, which starts at 7 p.m., with tickets priced $20-$25. Give Klaus a hero’s hometown welcome. Just over a week before that, strangely enough, Jello Biafra & the Guantanamo School of Medicine will play at the Magic Stick. It’s a weird coincidence, but one that DK fans should be happy to embrace. That show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $17-$19. Local hardcore vets Negative Approach play before Jello, with the Crashdollz opening the show. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Dead Kennedys to have a holiday in Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • 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 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.



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Stir It Up

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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