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    Turns out, our very own Jack Lessenberry knows the Grosse Pointer seeking to ban the MT: Ten years or so ago, a woman named Andrea Lavigne sat in on some media survey classes I was teaching at Wayne State University. She was in her late 30s or early 40s, and seemed to be searching for answers. She wanted to know how the media work, and told me she was a Maoist. This fascinated me, because I thought authentic Maoists were almost as rare as passenger pigeons. Chairman Mao, we now know, starved to death and slaughtered tens of millions of his own citizens, and kept China economically and intellectually backward. Intrigued, I got together one night before class with her and another Maoist, to find out what they were all about. Alas, they spouted a form of primitive, grade-school Marxism. They seemed to have very little historical knowledge of Communism or what it had actually been like. Yes. A Maoist. Read the full story at Michigan Radio here.

    The post Lessenberry on the battle to ban the Metro Times appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit residents sue incinerator owner over ‘noxious odors and contaminants’

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    The post Detroit residents sue incinerator owner over ‘noxious odors and contaminants’ appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Winners announced for the ‘High Times’ Medical Cannabis Cup

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    The post Winners announced for the ‘High Times’ Medical Cannabis Cup appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Satanists Leverage Hobby Lobby Ruling In Support of Pro­Choice Initiative

    So is the title of the press release we received this morning from The Satanic Temple. You may recall our interview with Doug Mesner from earlier this year. The Satanic Temple is, perhaps, best known for trying to build a child-friendly monument to satan in OKC: How Mesner and TST are rocking the Hobby Lobby ruling is interesting: The Satanic Temple Leverages Hobby Lobby Ruling to Claim Exemption From State Mandated ProLife Materials Reads the next line of the press release. And then their website: A number of states require that abortion providers give information to patients that maybe inaccurate or misleading. Demands that members of the Satanic Temple, or those who share our beliefs, be subjected against our will to anything but the best scientific understanding are a violation of our religious beliefs. Thanks to rulings such as Hobby Lobby, we can take a stand against these practices. Mesner points out how the Hobby Lobby ruling bolsters their position: While we feel we have a strong case for an exemption regardless of the Hobby Lobby ruling, the Supreme Court has decided that religious beliefs are so sacrosanct that they can even trump scientific fact. This was made clear when […]

    The post Satanists Leverage Hobby Lobby Ruling In Support of Pro­Choice Initiative appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Reports from the ‘High Times’ Medical Marijuana Cup in Clio

    On Saturday we set out to check out the High Times Medical Marijuana Cup in Clio, Mich. — High Times did hold a Cannabis Cup in the Motor City back in 2011, but Detroit police flexing their muscles and making arrests at that event may have been to blame, at least partially, for the choice of a new host city. The event was held this year at the Auto City Speedway, (also known as “B.F.E.” to Detroiters). Nevertheless, the prospect of stopping at the Torch for the best burger in the Genessee County was compelling — and anyway, this was the Cannabis Cup we were talking about. Was it really going to be “work?” It turned out, just a little bit. An inexplicable lack of an on-site ATM meant hiking quite a ways up the road to the nearest gas station, and then waiting for an attendant to restock the ATM with cash. We spoke with plenty of Cannabis Cup attendees at the gas station — everybody knows that the local gas station is a stoner’s best-friend. The two-day festival, for which one-day tickets were sold for $40, was divided into two sections — a general area and a medicating […]

    The post Reports from the ‘High Times’ Medical Marijuana Cup in Clio appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • ICYMI: Forbes rates Detroit #9 on its “America’s Most Creative Cities” list

    Yes, it’s true. Forbes says Detroit is one of America’s most creative cities: “We ranked these places based on four metrics: activity per capita on project-funding platforms Kickstarter and Indiegogo and music sites Bandcamp and ReverbNation. The goal was to capture organic creativity, since many artistic and musical types have “day jobs” outside of creative pursuits.” The Forbes list sandwiches #9 Detroit between #8 Seattle and #10 Oakland, Calif. If you are watching the art and culture explosion happening right now in Detroit, you probably think we should rank higher than #2 Boston and #1 San Francisco, if only for the fact that it’s actually affordable to create here and there is space for everyone to be creative. But hey, those metrics weren’t part of the equation. And there’s always next year.

    The post ICYMI: Forbes rates Detroit #9 on its “America’s Most Creative Cities” list appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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Politics & Prejudices

Media disgrace

On our local journos' feeding frenzy over Karen Dumas

Last month, the local media turned on Karen Dumas, a top aide to Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, with the sort of savagery starving sharks normally reserve for a freshly bleeding swimmer.

Suddenly, the press discovered that the mayor's communications director was an evil sorceress who was bewitching the mayor! Driving good people out of the administration!

For eight days they pounded energetically at her. The excuse was a bizarre lawsuit by Rochelle Collins, another Bing aide the mayor had attempted to quietly ease out of her job.

Non-news flash: People who get fired often file angry and absurd lawsuits. Collins, who has been described to me as "way over her head" in the job she lost, brought forth a doozy: She is demanding $750,000, reinstatement as an "executive assistant" to the mayor, with a salary nearly twice what she was making, and a private meeting and "personal apology," from Dave Bing.

And while she forgot to ask for a pony, she did ask for $100,000 for her husband's "emotional distress and loss of consortium."

Well, we all need a little consortium from time to time, and I hope the poor man gets some. But I don't know why the taxpayers ought to have to pay a hundred grand for it.

Naturally, Collins's suit also savaged her direct boss, Karen Dumas. She said Dumas drove down morale in the office! (Why, whoever heard of any boss doing that?) Horror of horror, Collins also charged that Cruella DeVil canceled a meeting with our sainted senior senator, Carl Levin, because she wanted to shop at Burberry.

Karen Dumas said that was absurd. (Actually, what she should have done was taken Carl to Burberry; the man is a bit rumpled, and could use a makeover before the next election.)

Bizarrely, the media acted as if these accusations were proven facts, and used them as a springboard to destroy Dumas. They incorrectly called this a "whistleblower lawsuit," when it was anything but. Whistleblowers are people in government who courageously come forth with damning information, at great risk to themselves.

Once you've been fired, you aren't a whistleblower. But this was way too fine a distinction for the News and Free Press, and the radio and TV reporters who follow, rewrite and ape them.

The word was out that it was time to destroy Dumas, and stories filled with anonymous sources followed, day after day, coupled with large pictures that made her look like a stressed-out speed addict.

What was baffling is that the same reporters who were out to do in Dumas paid scant attention — at least after the first day — to Rochelle Collins' far more serious charges against the mayor.

The lawsuit says that Dave Bing was plotting a complete takeover of not only the city, but the schools, and that he secretly wrote legislation that his stooge, one Gov. Rick Snyder, could sign.

"I know for a fact that [Bing] was involved in the writing of that legislation and making sure than everything was in place so that the mayor could take control of the city of Detroit and DPS."

Did she have a smoking gun, or at least a smoking document? Well, no, because "he didn't talk to all his staff about it because he didn't want it to get out." Perhaps Buzz Lightyear flew in and told Collins. In any event, those charges would seem to be far more significant than that — waahhh! — Dumas was mean to people.

But the media had its agenda, and may have correctly figured that there was no way they could oust the mayor. Eventually, as I said in this column last week, they began writing things to the effect of: "Well, nobody has alleged Dave Bing has been sleeping with Karen Dumas, but she is a pretty woman and he is a powerful man, and Kwame Kilpatrick screwed his top aide, so who needs facts?"

After a week of this, the mayor eventually admitted that the controversy had produced too much of a "distraction," and so he fired Dumas, who, in addition to her communications duties, wore multiple other hats, including supervising the city's community action centers, philanthropic affairs and cable communications.

Firing her leaves a number of giant and not-easy-to-fill holes. However, if Bing felt this would keep the wolves from his door, he was sorely mistaken. Throwing raw meat to wolves tends only to whet their appetites. Within days, it became evident how much the mayor needed his fired aide's skills. When City Council rejected his offer for a compromise over the budget, he appeared to have a temper tantrum.

The mayor proclaimed he was done negotiating, and would instead cut everything to the bone; close parks, lay off cops, so there.

Karen Dumas, whatever her managerial faults may or may not have been, would never have allowed the mayor to make such a petulant statement. Naturally, he was back negotiating the next day.

Last weekend, I caught up with Dumas over lunch, and was surprised by how philosophical she seemed. Though she left a $141,000 job without severance or benefits, she didn't appear bitter.

I told her I thought it sent a bad signal when she hired Sharon McPhail to defend her against Collins' lawsuit. "I never hired her," Dumas told me. "She offered advice, but I didn't hire her."

That stunned me; I had read it in the Detroit News; seen it on TV. Dumas smiled. "Don't you think it is pretty clear the media care more about being first than being correct?"

Well, duh. That's what I've been criticizing them about for years. I am not especially worried about Dumas, who is plenty resilient and talented enough to reinvent herself.

However, I am more worried about the mayor's administration, not to mention the city. There's a scene in Oliver Stone's monumental movie Nixon, in which Tricky Dick fires some aide in an effort to get the heat off himself. H.R. (Bob) Haldeman turns to counsel John Ehrlichman.

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