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  • 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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Stir It Up

Crushing the unions

Suddenly, the Midwest looks like the Middle East

It seems not long ago that we started watching mass protests shake up regimes across the Middle East and North Africa, even toppling Egypt's government. Now we're witnessing protests across the United States in response to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's attempt to strip collective bargaining rights from state workers. The protests probably won't lead to regime change in Wisconsin, but they have lit a fire under union supporters across the country.

Things have gotten very interesting since the GOP-sponsored bill was introduced in Wisconsin's Legislature. Republicans control the executive office, the House and the Senate in the Badger state, and it seems that they are using the opportunity to force their agenda through. Wisconsin's 14 Democratic state senators fled the state in order to keep the Senate from having a quorum, thus keeping the bill from coming to a vote.

Walker says the state's financial crisis calls for draconian measures. Some say that Walker created the financial crises by cutting taxes in the state. Regardless of the cause, Wisconsin public unions have actually agreed to all the economic provisions of the bill, wage cuts, and paying more for pensions and health care. But Walker's continuing insistence on curtailing collective bargaining rights makes this move look like bald-faced union busting.

"Walker is showing unwillingness to compromise," says John Beck, director of Labor Education at Michigan State University. "He has no intention to negotiate. The fiscal crisis only exists in Wisconsin because he got into office to cut taxes. They actually had a surplus before he came in. It's nothing but an attack on organized labor."

Republicans and their corporate allies have been pretty successful in attacking unions for decades. In 1945, union members made up 33.5 percent of the workforce. Today that number is about 12 percent; however 35 percent of public sector workers belong to unions while only about 7 percent of private sector workers are organized. Those numbers show where anti-union forces see their opportunity. If they can bust the public sector unions, they can effectively smash the union movement.

"A blind man can see it," says Beck. "Unions have already conceded that they're willing to talk about economic concessions. Going after the heart of organized labor is what he's really trying to do."

But why?

"Of the top 10 financiers of the 2010 elections, seven of them were right-wing, the other three were unions — AFSCME, NEA and SEIU," says Beck.

So it looks like a strategy for political domination: Take the financial backing away from your opponent. And if you don't believe that right-wing corporate money backs this move, consider the billionaire Koch brothers.

Charles and David Koch — whose Koch Industries has business interests from oil and petrochemicals to forest products — were principal financiers of Walker's campaign through contributions from their company and secondarily through the Republican Governors Association. A Koch spokesman at this year's Conservative Political Action Conference is reported to have said that their goal was to take the unions down "at the knees." The Kochs are also major Tea Party financiers.

The relationship between Walker and the Kochs was highlighted last week when Ian Murphy, editor of the Buffalo Beast alternative newspaper, prank called Walker pretending to be David Koch. In the recording posted online, Walker sounds like a subordinate reporting to his superior: Murphy, pretending to be Koch, asks, "What's the latest?" Walker goes into a long explanation of tactical plans, and says, "Each day we crank up a little pressure." He also says, "This is ground zero, there's no doubt about it" regarding the fight with unions. When Murphy suggests he bring a baseball bat to a meeting with opponents, Walker says, "I have one in my office; you'll be happy with that."

If there's still any doubt about collusion, note that a Koch front group, Americans for Prosperity, uses standwithwalker.com to encourage the elimination of labor rights.

As many as 100,000 demonstators in Madison and the flight of Democratic senators has stymied the controversial bill since Feb. 15. On Sunday, protesters won a battle of sorts when they successfully defied a police deadline to vacate the Capitol building by 4 p.m. Meanwhile, Walker refuses to negotiate.

Union supporters nationwide see the fight in Wisconsin as connected to their own fates and have been mobilizing. Moveon.org organized demonstrations in all 50 states over the weekend. In Lansing, Beck reported about 400 or 500 pro-union demonstrators turned out, with about 20 Tea Party counter-demonstrators.

"They said we have to support folks in Wisconsin because that's where the beachhead is right now," says Beck. "They see this as a way station to a much more galvanized and united labor movement."

There is concern in Michigan that — although he hasn't taken on organized labor directly — some of Gov. Rick Snyder's policies will weaken unions. For instance, with our state's economic crisis many municipalities face budget shortfalls. The state has been training some 175 emergency financial managers (EMFs) and the proposed Emergency Manager Takeover Bill would give EMFs the power to void union contracts. As cities, school districts and other municipal entities hit the financial wall, the EMFs will be making their draconian moves across Michigan.

In Detroit, while it may seem a very different situation, Detroit Symphony Orchestra musicians, who have been on strike since Oct. 4, see their situation as connected to Wisconsin.

"To put it succinctly, the DSO is trying to strip the musicians of their right to bargain," says Greg Bowens, a spokesman for the musicians. "It's not in a law like Wisconsin's but you've got to call a spade a spade."

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