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    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.

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    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

Emergency manager for Detroit?

Talking with Joe Harris about the city, its problems and a persistent lack of vision

There was something poignant about the scene last week at City Hall, aka the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center, when the council, mayor and other Detroit city leaders huddled around a podium.

They all expressed solidarity. We can fix our problems. We don't need any emergency manager. We can do it, honest, mon.


Just days before, they'd been nastily bashing each other. The mayor's budget didn't cut enough, the council said. After turning the other cheek for months, Dave Bing finally lost it.

He shot back that Council President Charles Pugh couldn't even manage his own finances, so how could he know how to fix the city? He accused Council President Pro Tem Gary Brown of being a triple-dipper who, thanks to a salary, police department pension and successful lawsuit, was sucking more money from Detroit than his share. As for Councilman Ken Cockrel Jr., who served as interim mayor for seven months: "What the hell did you achieve for the time that you were here?"

Nothing like money troubles to turn tempers ugly. But now the threat of an emergency manager suddenly is real. The governor has ordered a review of the city's finances, usually the first step. Whatever they think of each other, neither the mayor nor the council wants to lose their powers. Nor do the city unions want a situation where an emergency manager can void out their contracts.

Yet is it too late to avoid that?

Last weekend, I talked to a man who may have the best grasp of the situation — Joe Harris, now the emergency manager in tiny Benton Harbor, off in the southwest corner of the state.

Harris, a certified public accountant in private practice for many years, was Detroit's auditor general for a decade, from 1995 to 2005, and afterward served as the city's chief financial officer during the seven months Cockrel was mayor. 

I asked him: Do you see any way the city can avoid having an emergency manager and losing control of its own affairs?

"Truthfully, no," he said — and paused. "Well, there is a way for the mayor and council and the unions to get together and order some draconian changes in labor contracts," he said.

"They'd have to do that quickly, and the mayor needs to understand he can't maintain the same public safety force the city has had." While both mayor and council agree that city positions have to be eliminated, council wants to eliminate far more – including 500 police and firefighters, something the mayor has refused to do.

There really isn't any choice, the former auditor said, and even that doesn't solve the city's bigger problems. What, I asked him, did he think the odds were that the city leaders could come together?

"Well, let's put it this way. I wouldn't bet the ranch on it."

Harris may feel he has to be somewhat circumspect. He was, after all, briefly, Detroit's chief financial officer before being replaced by Bing, and doesn't want to look like a vindictive ex-employee.

He is also now an emergency manager in another city, and might risk being seen as speaking out of turn. He's also aware that he has also been mentioned as a possible EM for Detroit, and might not want to be seen as campaigning for the job.

Yet, blunt, plain-speaking honesty has always been Joe Harris' style. When I asked him how Detroit ended up in this mess, he didn't hesitate to answer: "You have to start with a plan. What the city has is a long-term problem, and it takes a strategic plan to try to address it.

"But Dave Bing doesn't have a plan. Matter of fact, that's the same as the last four mayors. Not one has presented a viable plan."

"When Mayor Bing ran for office," observed Harris, "he said he would bring in a team of experts and straighten out the city's finances.

"But he didn't know anything. When you took a look at his team of experts, they didn't have the qualifications. I'm sure they were all good and respected in their fields, but they didn't understand ...

"After that, it turns out [Bing's] plan, such as it was, was to sit down with department heads and find a way to work together to solve the problem." 

But these were people who had grown up in the system. They couldn't see outside their own closed universe, Harris said, with an air of regret. He has been predicting for years that would happen. "I thought it would have happened already.

"But they helped Bing get a quarter-billion-dollar loan, and instead of using it to help reorganize, they just went on doing the things they were doing," making a failed ship float a little longer.

What's important to keep in mind is that the city's real problem is not the current budget deficit. Far worse is the fact that the city has $5 billion — billion with a capital B — in unfunded pensions and other liabilities, according to the respected, nonpartisan Citizens' Research Council. How can the city ever hope to manage that?

"The tragedy is that this would be the time to borrow and refinance that," Harris said. Interest rates are near historic lows. "But the city has maxed out its credit cards." 

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