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  • Jumpin Jumpin: Police, fire fighters, and EMS workers to be honored at Sky Zone

    When we think of honoring the brave men and women who protect and serve the metro Detroit area, we think of trampolines.  We think they should jump on trampolines. And by trampolines, we mean an all-walled trampoline field where they can land in a pit of 10,000 foam cubes. They have to blow off steam some how. Sky Zone, the inventors of such a place, are hosting a special day at their Canton and Shelby Township locations that will be all about police officers, firefighters, EMS workers, and their families. On Tuesday, August 5 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. there will be free jumping for these folks. All metro Detroit police, firefighters, EMS workers and their families are invited to come, though an employee ID or professional organization ID will be required for admittance to 60 free minutes at the indoor park. The hour of free jumping comes with free pizza from Jet’s as well. This is the first event of its kind in Michigan.  Sky Zone Canton is located at 42550 Executive Drive Sky Zone Shelby Township is located at 50810 Sabrina Drive. Check skyzone.com for more information. 

    The post Jumpin Jumpin: Police, fire fighters, and EMS workers to be honored at Sky Zone appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Metro Times is getting a new website today

    Your favorite local alternative weekly is getting a digital facelift at around 4 p.m. today, and we need your help. If you, dear reader, spot anything amiss or notice that any of our regular features are not working properly, do give us a shout in the comment section below or on social media. If, on the other hand, you find that you positively adore our new design (which we surely hope you do!), we’d certainly enjoy hearing about that as well. Let the countdown to launch begin!

    The post Metro Times is getting a new website today appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit group Feral Ground is out to prove hip-hop is alive and well

    By LeeAnn Brown Some people say that hip-hop is dead. Local ban Fderal Ground is proving that is not the case. The seven-member band, consisting of three lead vocalists, a DJ, bass, drums and guitar, plays what they call “living hip-hop.” Their music, peppered with multiple styles, covers all aspects of life from growing up in the D to playing with fire despite knowing you will likely get burned. Their undeniable chemistry and raw lyrics compose a music that is living, breathing, and connecting to their listeners. It has been nearly 11 years since Vinny Mendez and Michael Powers conjured up the basement idea that has flowered into the Detroit funk-hop band Feral Ground. Throughout high school the two wrote and rapped consistently, playing shows here and there. In those years they matched their rap stanzas with the animated, dynamic voice of Ginger Nastase and saw an instant connection. The now trio backed their lyrics with DJ Aldo’s beats on and off for years, making him a permanent member within the last year, along with Andy DaFunk (bass), Joseph Waldecker (drums), and newest member, Craig Ericson (guitar). We sat down with Feral Ground and their manager, Miguel Mira, in their […]

    The post Detroit group Feral Ground is out to prove hip-hop is alive and well appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Yale professor talks Plato, James Madison and Detroit’s emergency manager law

    Much has been made about Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s decision this week to transfer authority of the city’s water department to Mayor Mike Duggan. In what is the most interesting read on the situation, Jason Stanley, professor of philosophy at Yale, pens an analysis on Michigan’s novel emergency manager law on the New York Times Opinionator blog. Stanley deconstructs Michigan’s grand experiment in governance by addressing two questions: Has the EM law resulted in policy that maximally serves the public good? And, is the law consistent with basic principles of democracy? Stanley ties in examples of Plato, James Madison’s Federalist Papers, and Nazi political theorist Carl Schmitt. A short excerpt: Plato was a harsh critic of democracy, a position that derived from the fact that his chief value for a society was social efficiency. In Plato’s view, most people are not capable of employing their autonomy to make the right choices, that is, choices that maximize overall efficiency. Michigan is following Plato’s recommendation to handle the problems raised by elections. Though there are many different senses of “liberty” and “autonomy,” none mean the same thing as “efficiency.” Singapore is a state that values efficiency above all. But by no stretch of […]

    The post Yale professor talks Plato, James Madison and Detroit’s emergency manager law appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Where to meet a baby dinosaur this week

    Walking with Dinosaurs, a magnificent stage show that features life-sized animatronic creatures from the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods, will be in town next week. But to preview the show’s run at the Palace, a baby T-Rex will be making an appearance at four area malls to the delight and wonderment of shoppers. Baby T-Rex, as the creature is being affectionately referred to, is seven-feet-tall and 14-feet-long. He’ll only be at each mall for about 15 minutes, so while there will be photo opportunities, they’ll be short. The dino will be at Fairlane Town Center Center Court at 18900 Michigan Ave. in Detroit from 2-2:15 p.m. today, July 30; The Mall at Partridge Creek at 17420 Hall Rd. in Clinton Township from 5-5:15 p.m. today, July 30; Twelve Oaks Mall at the Lord & Taylor Court at 27500 Novi Rd., Novi tomorrow, Thursday July 31 from 1:30-1:45 p.m.; and Great Lakes Crossing Food Court at 4000 Baldwin Rd., Auburn Hills from 5-5:15 p.m., tomorrow Thursday, July 31.  

    The post Where to meet a baby dinosaur this week appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit website offers stats, updates on city operations

    Interested in reading about what Detroit accomplishes on a week-to-week basis that’s produced by the city itself? Great. You can do that now, here, at the Detroit Dashboard. Every Thursday morning, the city will publish an update to the dashboard because Mayor Mike Duggan loves metrics, even if the data might be hard to come by. According to Duggan’s office, the dashboard will provide data on how many LED street lights were installed, how many vacant lots were mowed, how much blight was removed, and more. This week, the city says it has sold 13 site lots through BuildingDetroit.com, removed 570 tons of illegal dumping, and filed 57 lawsuits against abandoned property owners.  

    The post Detroit website offers stats, updates on city operations appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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Politics & Prejudices

Jenny take a ride

After an almost leadership-free stint in office, Granholm departs

Flashback to a cold New Year's Day in Lansing two decades ago, where newly elected Gov. John Engler has just been sworn in after winning the upset of the century.

Old George Romney, a trailblazing governor from the 1960s, sweeps up, grasps his hand, and offers two words of advice: "Be bold."

Many people would have given Engler, who won by less than 1 percent of the vote, very different advice: Be careful, move to the center, be moderate, woo Democrats in the Legislature.

John Engler didn't listen.

Instead, he was bold. Though Democrats solidly controlled the House when he arrived, he pushed through an agenda that sent Michigan government barreling far to the right.

True, he was able to do so in part because he knew the Legislature better than the back of his hand; he had spent his entire adult life in it before being elected governor. But he was also forceful, and decisively. Politically, I was strongly opposed to virtually everything he accomplished. Nor did I like his brutal style. But he was a very successful governor.

Jennifer Granholm's positions on most issues are much closer to mine — and, I would guess, to those of most readers of this column. Yet two weeks from now, when she leaves the governor's office for the last time, the verdict of history is likely to be harsh. Not because she was governor during a terrible recession; that certainly wasn't her fault. And not because she was in the least bit corrupt in any way — everything I know indicates she is squeaky clean. But she was a howling disaster as a governor, for three reasons.

Nobody knew what she stood for, really, especially as far as the big picture went. Nobody in the Legislature feared her, and as time went on, fewer and fewer even respected her.

But to me, Jennifer Granholm's biggest failure as a leader was simply this: She was anything but bold. Instead, she was weak, vacillating, indecisive and nearly always ineffectual.

We are paying a heavy price for that. The baffling tragedy of all this: It didn't have to be that way. Here's one story that illustrates that, from the long-vanished era of ... December 2006.

Four years ago, soon after her landslide re-election victory, Dan Mulhern, aka the "First Gentleman," called out of the blue and asked if I would have dinner with him in Detroit. That mildly surprised me. After all, I had sometimes been critical of our governor — and even of Mulhern himself.

My questioning of the propriety of some of her husband's consulting gigs caused Granholm, not yet governor, to call up and literally scream at me, an act which made me suspect (correctly) I was unlikely to make the media Christmas Party list if she was elected.

But now, four years later, her man wanted to dine with me. What was this all about? I asked while munching something bland at the Traffic Jam. "The state is really in a mess," he said.

He meant, primarily, state government, which wasn't taking in enough money to pay for the things it needs to do, such as educating our children and fixing Michigan's crumbling infrastructure.

"You are one of the few people who really understands that," Mulhern said. He added that while he thought I had been unfairly critical of the governor and of his own gentlemanly self, they, or at least he, wanted my advice as to how to get this across to the people.

Simple, I said. There's nobody in politics today better at directly communicating with the voters than Jennifer Granholm.

Here's what she needs to do: Ask for, or buy if necessary, a half-hour of television time to lay it all out for the citizens of Michigan. You know, sort of a modern-day "fireside chat." Tell the citizens where the state really stands, perhaps with the aid of a few charts and graphs. Tell them how this massive "structural deficit" gradually evolved, and that none of the politicians, including you, have been completely honest with them.

Then tell them what has to happen now — and that it will cost them. That Michigan has to be fixed so your children and grandchildren can have a future. Tell them it will cost them more now, how you expect to pay for it and why it will be worth it, to everyone. Then be prepared to launch a campaign to get the public behind you, and to push the Legislature to back you.

That's what I told the First Gentleman, in so many words.

"Well, we thought we'd do something like that in the State of the State speech," he finally said. I stared at him. No one listens to or reads the governor's annual state of the state speech except the reporters who have to cover it — and not even all of them. In the end, Jennifer Granholm didn't even do that.

Timidly, she instead had her budget director offer a proposal to increase the sales tax or extend it to services a few days later. The Legislature contemptuously ignored it.

With the passing of years, the governor became less and less relevant to the budget process. She kept busy running around the globe, bringing promises of a few handfuls of jobs. But she never tried to achieve any of the sweeping, massive changes state government needs. Never took the system on.

Which is sad, baffling — and utterly inexcusable. Here's why: Jennifer Granholm had the political capital to make something happen in January 2007. Remember, she had just been re-elected governor by a landslide. Yes, Republicans controlled the state Senate. But their leader was the pipsqueak Mike Bishop, who represented a small district centered in Rochester Hills.

Jennifer Granholm really could have blown him away. She had a rare opportunity to put it on the line and make things happen.

Why? After her huge landslide, she had political capital and nothing to lose. Thanks to term limits, she couldn't run for governor again — or for much else. Democrats held both seats in the U.S. Senate. Nor could she run for president or vice president.

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