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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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Politics & Prejudices

Dems: Gutless cowards

Instead of putting forth a plan, Dems sit on their hands

Throughout the state, horrified citizens are beginning to grasp what Gov. Rick Snyder's budget cuts will really mean to them.

They are going to get screwed. The poor and young and most vulnerable will be royally screwed. The rich, naturally, will be just fine. You might expect the Democrats, the party of the people, the party of Andrew Jackson and Bobby Kennedy and Soapy Williams, to rise to their defense. Offer an alternative program.

Suggesting raising — gasp — taxes on those more than able to pay! Fighting for the poor and downtrodden, that sort of thing.

Yes, the Democrats by themselves are politically powerless now. They are heavily outnumbered in the Legislature. They can pass nothing. But they could stand for something. They could say, "We'd do this instead. We would balance the budget this way. We would make the sacrifice truly fair, and preserve our children's futures."

They aren't doing that, however. They are mostly gutless cowards. They are afraid to stand for anything. They lack the guts to call for the necessary tax increases they should stand for.

Charles Ballard, a Michigan State University economist, tells me, "If we were to raise the income tax rate by a modest amount, I believe that the negative effects would be very small. In fact, if we use the money to repair some of our crumbling infrastructure, and to invest in early childhood education, I believe a modest increase in the income tax rate would have a positive effect on attracting businesses."

Ballard, who understands our economy better than anyone, said that boosting the income tax rate from the present 4.35 percent to 5.5 percent, would eliminate the entire deficit.

That's what the Dems' program should be. Here's what it is: "Waaaaah! Don't cut no benefits."

Well, fine. But then how should the state close the $1 billion-plus deficit gap we have this and every year — even if we don't enact Gov. Rick Snyder's enormous tax breaks for business?

Democrats: "Waaaah! Don't cut no benefits."

What they are hoping, of course, is that they don't have to put forward an alternative program, that they'll get power back just because people are disgusted with the Republicans.

Even if it works, it is a contemptible excuse for political philosophy. Give the GOP this: They stand for something, are filled with passionate intensity, and aren't afraid to say so. Those who should be opposing them are invertebrates.

Away from Lansing, people are starting to get it. Parents are starting to understand what the sharp per-pupil spending cuts will mean to their kids' ability to get an education that already often wasn't good enough.

College students will see a steep tuition hike, and will come back to campus in the fall to find they are paying more for less.

The impact is likely to fall heaviest on poor families. Imagine a single mother — or father — with two kids, working a couple dreary jobs, struggling to make it on $15,000 a year. There are many, many people like that in today's Michigan. They had one thing going for them till now: They'd get a state tax refund of $533, thanks to the EITC, or Earned Income Tax Credit. Yet the governor and the Legislature are hell-bent on taking that away. Know what they'll give that family instead? Fifty bucks.

This means people will lose their homes; that, according to the nonpartisan, nonprofit Michigan League for Human Services (MLHS), something like 11,000 children will be toppled over the line into poverty. This is all being done so that business can get a huge tax break.

Gilda Jacobs, who runs the league, is no bomb-thrower. She's a mild-mannered suburban woman in her early 60s, a former Oakland County commissioner and state senator. Yet the impact of what's coming caused her to virtually scream: "The cuts lawmakers are making are so mean-spirited that you almost have to ask: Are the cuts deliberately crafted by bullies who are deliberately targeting kids and others who can't fight back?"

That's almost right, Gilda: They are, in fact, targeting those who can't vote. Originally, the governor proposed to tax the pensions of those now receiving them. When the geezers went ballistic, his buddies in the Legislature feared revenge at the polls. They ran from their governor like Larry, Moe and Curly being chased by a striped-ass ape. Snyder heard them, backed off. Together they came up with this compromise:

They will just tax the pensions of those not receiving them yet! By the time the people get to vote for the Legislature again, the tax will be a done deal. In the meantime, they'll make up some of the difference by screwing people on the Homestead Tax Credit, which is less well understood.

Last week, a ragged band of citizens tried to take matters into their own hands. Michigan Citizens United is going to try to recall the governor in a special election. They will find out Friday if their petition language is approved. You have to admire their passion, their drive to do something. Yet their efforts are likely to be a waste. They need 1 million signatures in three months, when you take into account that some signatures will always be disqualified.

That means collecting more than 10,000 every day for that time. That is simply not possible. Getting a constitutional amendment on the ballot only takes a third as many, and generally only succeeds if someone has money to pay handsomely to collect them.

Citizens United's spokesman says they've raised maybe a thousand bucks. What if they succeed?

There'd be another election, and if Snyder were removed, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, who is even more conservative, would succeed him.

What we need right now is leadership; someone — Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, perhaps — to offer a program, that even if it fails now, is something to rally around. Yet up to now, they offer only the sounds of silence.

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