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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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Higher Ground

Law and disorder

Legal battles over drug testing, grow operations and ordinances continue

Even though it's not an election year, when it comes to medical marijuana, you have to consider Michigan a battleground state. The battles over who, where, when and how medical marijuana can be used and distributed are being fought in the courts, and although some of them may be settled this year, it will probably take another couple of years before all of the present cases are finally put to rest.

One of the key cases is the American Civil Liberties Union suit against Wal-Mart for firing Joseph Casias. Casias, of Battle Creek, is a cancer patient who uses medical marijuana at his oncologist's recommendation. After injuring his knee at work he took a required drug test, which found he had been using marijuana — legally under the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act.

"There are now two big motions before federal Judge Robert Jonker that were argued back in November," says ACLU of Michigan staff attorney Dan Korobkin. "One is a motion to remand the case to the state court. The second motion, Wal-Mart filed to dismiss the suit entirely. ... It was a fairly lengthy hearing and we expect a ruling any day now. He [Judge Jonker] has to decide the first motion, whether the case is heard in state court or federal court. If it stays in federal court, then he'll rule on the dismissal. This is the first big case in Michigan about the rights of medical marijuana patients who also have jobs. This is a case about whether a medical marijuana patient has to choose between making a living and supporting a family or treating a medical condition and pain based on the advice of a doctor. When the law was enacted, citizens said you shouldn't have to make that choice."

Once those motions are ruled on, and assuming there are no appeals, then the actual case will be argued — or be done with if Wal-Mart gets its way. Casias was named Associate of the Year in 2008 at the Battle Creek Wal-Mart and had an exemplary employment record.

"Following all rules of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act protects you from being fired by Wal-Mart or any other employer," says Korobkin. "We don't argue that you can use marijuana and show up at work under the influence. He was fired for just being a medical marijuana patient."

In an unrelated case, the ACLU has sued Livonia, Bloomfield Hills and Birmingham on behalf of registered medical marijuana patients Linda Lott and her husband Bob, who live in Birmingham. Linda has multiple sclerosis and Bob, her caregiver, has glaucoma. He would like to grow marijuana in a Livonia warehouse he owns, and she would like to medicate at a private social club she belongs to in Bloomfield Hills. In the past year, each of those cities passed a law completely banning medical marijuana in defiance of state law.

"How can a city completely ban medical marijuana?" asks Korobkin.

They've done it, but now we'll eventually find out if they've done it legally under Michigan law.

While medical marijuana is legal under state law, it isn't under federal law. That issue is also playing out in the case of five Okemos growing facilities that were raided by the Drug Enforcement Agency early in December, where investigators allegedly found more than 400 plants. The federal government has a policy of not raiding medical marijuana facilities that are in full compliance with state law, so maybe they believe these growers were doing something wrong. So far, aside from breaking up grow operations and depriving patients of their medication, it has come down to a tussle between the DEA and Michigan's Department of Community Health, which administers the medical marijuana patient and caregiver documentation.

The DEA wants the state to turn over personal records of individuals it is investigating. However, there are potential civil and criminal penalties for violating confidentiality promised in the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act. Whoever actually hands the records over to the feds could be liable. As it stands now, Community Health officials are seeking immunity from prosecution if they turn over the records. The Michigan Association of Compassion Clubs, a medical marijuana support organization, has filed an injunction opposing the DEA's records.

"That's a damn interesting case," says attorney Matt Abel of Detroit's Cannabis Counsel law office. "There are a lot of factors; one is federal supremacy, which is well established. However, medical marijuana patients and caregivers have privacy rights guaranteed to them under state law. Whoever gives documents to the feds is violating state law. Can the federal government give immunity for violating state law? If the court orders that records be turned over, it will have a chilling effect on medical marijuana patients."

Abel is not personally involved in the case but, as a medical marijuana activist, he keeps an eye on legal developments. Another case he's watching is the recent raid on the complex housing Big Daddy's Compassion Club and Big Daddy's Hydro in Oak Park. Oakland County sheriff's deputies raided the complex owned by Rick "Big Daddy" Ferris on Jan. 12. They took money, marijuana and equipment, but oddly, no one has yet been charged with anything. Police said that some drug dealers busted elsewhere in Oakland County claimed they got all their pot from Big Daddy's — although there was no discussion on whether the alleged dealers acquired the marijuana from Big Daddy's legally or not.

What the raid did do was show once again that Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper and Sheriff Mike Bouchard want to keep their boot heels on the neck of medical marijuana in their county. In August, sheriff's deputies busted two alleged marijuana dispensaries in Oakland County.

"Oakland is the most difficult county to deal with, the most unreasonable," says Abel. "They have the largest budget, the largest staff, a conservative bench, and a whack-job prosecutor. ... In the Big Daddy's case they didn't charge anybody right away. It was a smash and grab, take your stuff and then you have to prove that they don't have the right to it. It's a bad incentive for the police. They don't take things they believe were purchased with drug proceeds. They take things they can get money for at auction."

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