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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

Leadership for sale

Lackeys in Lansing take a holiday

Michigan legislators make pretty good money, as state lawmaker salaries go. Every one of our 148 elected representatives will be paid more than $6,600 this month. Paid that by your poor, cash-strapped Michigan, paid with our taxpayer dollars ... even though they aren't doing any more of the people's business. They've knocked off for the year, you see.

They think they need another long paid vacation. That's not to say they solved the state's problems, or even made things better. They almost completely failed to address the state's real difficulties, such as school funding or the system that produces budget deficits year after year. Most didn't care enough.

And many of them were rewarded handsomely not to do anything serious to make life better for ordinary people.

Anyone who tried to do that could be assured that Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop would block anything decent from happening. He had one small failure: the smoking ban. The Rochester Republican didn't want to outlaw smoking in bars and restaurants, and for a time, prevented any vote on the issue. But in the end, part of his own caucus, led by state Sen. Tom George of Kalamazoo, revolted. George is normally a right-winger, but he's also a physician who knows that second-hand smoke kills people. Outgunned, Bishop had to let the good guys win this one last spring. But it probably wasn't all that big a deal to him; the opponents of the smoking ban weren't giving him the kind of money Matty Moroun was.

Want a perfect example of the failure of our democracy? Look at what happened last week with the proposed new Detroit River International Crossing Bridge. Virtually every business, labor and corporate interest wants a new bridge. Canada offered to front Michigan's costs, meaning we wouldn't have to pay a dime.

The project, state Sen. Ray Basham of Taylor told me, would create 10,000 good-paying construction and other jobs, most of which would go to Michigan residents. Sarah Hubbard, of the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce, said ripple effects meant the number of new jobs would expand to 35,000.

Anyone who knows how desperate people are, with unemployment running out for hundreds of thousands, knows how badly needed those jobs are. But two men were determined to prevent them from happening. Bishop, of course, but he was a mere lackey of the real bloated spider of corruption: That would be Manuel J. "Matty" Moroun, the owner of the Ambassador Bridge, who doesn't want his monopoly threatened.

Moroun, an 83-year-old billionaire and probably Detroit's worst slumlord (just think the hulking ruin of the old Michigan Central train station) sent forth his wage slaves and minions to block the new bridge. They lied, misrepresented, improperly seized city land, and most of all, got themselves the best government that their money can buy. Most of all, they showered politicians with cash contributions.

Newspaper reports indicate Moroun coughed up more than $1 million for federal and state candidates and political action committees in the last few years. More than $75,000 went to Bishop's campaign for the GOP nomination for attorney general. He didn't get it, which may prove the existence of some kind of god. What's interesting, however, is that the AG candidate is picked by party insiders, not voters. So what did Bishop need the money for? Moroun also gave at least $150,000 to committees to elect GOP Senate candidates.

Legal? Yes, thanks to our cockeyed system, which calls a billionaire's attempt to buy a legislature "free speech."

Rich Robinson of the Michigan Finance Network more accurately called it "a form of legalized bribery." But Moroun won, of course. Basham, who was also instrumental in getting the smoking ban accomplished, waged a heroic, last-ditch fight to the end.

In May, Bishop promised an up-or-down vote on the bridge, but cynically decided to break his word in November. Basham last week tried a legislative "Hail Mary pass," to get the bill to the floor. He was no match for Moroun's dollars.

That was that. Now, Moroun's activities have been written about many times before, in this column and elsewhere. The facts of the matter and the need for a new bridge were well-known. But that didn't make any difference to the lawmakers, or to an increasingly apathetic public. "Nobody cares!" said Macomb County Circuit Judge Matthew Switalski, when I ran into him at a party last weekend. The judge seemed mildly amazed. "You wrote about all these things, and people just don't care."

Yeah, well, what can you say? Everyone may be getting screwed. But hey, they can watch Hung on their DVRs any time they want to.

There was one mild bit of low comedy at the end. State Rep. Brian Calley, who will be Michigan's new lieutenant governor, is a run-of-the-mill conservative who, at the end of the session, made an impassioned plea to his fellow Republicans to require insurance coverage for autism.

Huh? Republicans never want to force insurance companies to do anything. However, Calley just happens to have an autistic child. Interesting how something like that can change your perspective. Calley was silly enough to try to persuade Mike Bishop and his pals to show signs of humanity.

"I don't think you've got a shot in hell," one wise senator correctly told him. Naturally, Bishop wouldn't allow a vote on autism either. If the new lieutenant governor wanted compassion and understanding, he'd have been better off going to Matty Moroun.

 

Final thoughts on Helen Thomas: Last May, the journalism legend was fired after she told a blogger with a video camera that Jews should get "the hell out" of Israel and go back to "Germany, Poland, America" or anyplace else.

Awful as those remarks were, it was possible to believe she was just having a bad day and was reacting irritably to what amounted to an ambush interview. Nor was it clear whether she was challenging Israel's right to exist, or merely saying that it should leave the territories their armies have occupied since the 1967 war.

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