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    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 make money 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.

  • Detroit’s grand bargain still needs Lansing’s approval

    In this week’s Metro Times we took a look at the state legislature’s role in Detroit’s ongoing bankruptcy — in particular, how it must approve a $350 million pledge for the so-called “grand bargain” to remain intact. And, with last night’s announcement of a significant deal between the city and Detroit’s pension boards and retiree groups, the ball is Lansing’s court now. The new deal, first reported by the Freep, would cut general employees monthly pension checks by 4.5 percent and eliminate their cost-of-living increases. Police and fire retirees would see no cuts to monthly checks, while their cost-of-living increases would be reduced from 2.25 percent to 1 percent. Under the original offer, police and fire retirees cuts were as high as 14 percent, with general retirees as high as 34 percent, that is, if the groups rejected the “grand bargain,” an $816 million proposal funded by foundations, the state, and the DIA to shore up pensions. The sweeter deal for pensions, though, it must be noted, entirely relies on the state legislature approving $350 million for Detroit’s bankruptcy.  And while this broke after Metro Times went to press, that was the focal point of this week’s News Hits column — so, it’s worth repeating: The […]

    The post Detroit’s grand bargain still needs Lansing’s approval appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday

    This Saturday, April 19, is Record Store Day, and there is plenty going on in metro Detroit and Michigan. Of special interest to us is Chiodos’ 7” single “R2ME2/Let Me Get You A Towel,” Mayer Hawthorne & Shintaro Skamoto’s 7” “Wine Glass Woman/In a Phantom,” Chuck Inglish & Action Bronson’s 7” “Game Time,” Chuck Inglish & Chance the Rapper’s 7” “Glam,” Chuck Inglish & Chromeo’s 7” “Legs,” Chuck Inglish, Mac Miller & Ab-Soul’s 7” “Easily,” James Williamson’s 7” “Open Up and Bleed/Gimme Some Skin,” Black Milk’s 12” “Glitches in the Break,” Mayer Hawthorne’s 10” “Jaded Inc.,” Wayne Kramer & the Lexington Arts Ensemble’s 12” “Lexington,” and best of all, Ray Parker Jr.’s 10” “Ghostbusters.” We wrote about James Williamson’s release this week. Go shop. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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Stir It Up

New tactic for crime?

Detroit cops to target gang members with 'cease fire' strategy

Photo: Larry Gabriel, License: N/A

Larry Gabriel

Detroit Chief of Police Ralph Godbe, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy and Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute George Kelling at WSU's City Under Siege forum.

Last spring I got all excited after reading a book titled Don't Shoot, by David M. Kennedy. Subtitled One Man, a Street Fellowship and the End of Violence in Inner-City America, the book details how Kennedy and others developed and employed innovative strategies that significantly lowered gun violence and street-corner drug dealing in Boston, Baltimore, Cincinnati and other such cities. I wondered why aren't we doing that right here in Detroit.

I got my answer last week at Wayne State University's two-day event "City Under Siege: A University Forum on the Crime Crisis in Detroit." There, I found out that we are trying Kennedy's approach in Detroit. Or we'll be doing so soon. It turns out that, while my mind was reeling at what I thought was a disconnect between policing in Detroit and in those other cities, folks here were actually putting together the plan to make that connection a part of the city's Preventing Youth Violence program. In fact, at the time, a neighbor on my block was writing the grant application to the U.S. Department of Justice to implement the "cease-fire" initiative. The application was successful, and the DOJ granted the city $1.5 million to fund part of the initiative for the next three years. 

It wasn't the focus of the forum, but Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee told me that the team from Kennedy's Center for Crime Prevention and Control in New York would be in Detroit in three or four weeks to begin consulting with the Detroit team. This approach doesn't get overnight results — anything that purports to do that should not be trusted — but it starts in one neighborhood and builds from there. It's not just reacting to crimes that have already been committed; it's about preventing crimes from happening in the first place. In Don't Shoot, Kennedy wrote about the realization that brought him to the cease-fire strategy while working in Boston in the early 1990s:

"Two clear themes ... were emerging ... One was the ignorance gang members had about the legal risks they faced. The other was how scared they were." 

Apparently gang members who grow up in the crime-ridden hood don't realize just how illegal the things that they do are and what penalties they potentially face, especially at the federal level. The federal angle is key here, but I'll get into that later. The other thing is that the majority of the gang members are not really badasses. They are in the gang for protection, and they act tough because that's what they think they're supposed to do — an act of solidarity with their partners in crime. It could be just one guy in a gang who drives the action by committing or exhorting others to commit violent acts.

Those don't seem like earth-shaking revelations, but they've led to strategies that seem to work. Kennedy's idea was simple, identify the worst guys out there — pretty much everybody in a neighborhood knows who they are. The point is that there are actually not that many of them.

The cease-fire program targets the bad guys. Police build a portfolio on them, which is typical. What is not typical is that police then call them in for a meeting. The meeting may be attended by significant others such as parents or other family members, the minister at the local church, family members of murder victims – anybody that police think has a chance at reaching them. The police explain to the gangbangers the effect they are having on their community and let them know that it will no longer be tolerated. Police pull in various social service agencies and have someone who can walk the offenders through how to get help, be it substance abuse or job training or other aid. 

This sounds a little Pollyanna-like, but there is an iron fist in the velvet glove. The impetus to change is underscored by the threat of federal prosecution. Police let these guys know that if they commit another crime police will come down on them hard with federal charges. Federal charges mean that the perpetrators will not be going to state prison with their homies. They are going to federal prison far away where they don't know anybody and won't get a warm welcome from friends.

The program is a partnership that extends from community members all the up to the federal government. It creates a better relationship between police and community members, who by and large have little trust for each other under the status quo. These better relationships grow from a realization that police are not trying to send everybody in sight to jail; the goal is to stop the shooting and therefore the fear so that normal community behavior can take place.

Another angle on this is that much of the violence is driven by bullshit beefs and retaliation. Stuff like: You're going out with my partner's ex-girlfriend so that means I have a problem with you; or, we think you shot at one of our guys last week so that means we're going to shoot at you; or, you stepped on my new kicks so I've got to shoot you for it or lose status with my guys. The bottom line is these are things that someone can learn to let go.

The second half of Don't Shoot is dedicated to a related strategy to get rid of open-air drug markets. Kennedy describes how he convinced police to investigate street-corner drug dealers, build a case on them — and then not arrest them. Police call them in, show them that they have enough evidence to arrest them, and then tell the drug dealer to stop it. It they go out on the corner again they will get the book thrown at them. This is also accompanied with community members and social services support. It seems to work. 

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