Most Read
  • 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

Political marketplace

When it comes to politics of the highest bidder, we have the best government money can buy

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What would you think if you learned, say, that Gov. Rick Snyder gave me a thousand dollars to write a favorable column about him?

Naturally, you'd conclude that nothing I wrote would ever have any credibility again. Not that you would be reading me any longer; the Metro Times would fire me or any other columnist immediately if they found out I was on the take. So would any decent publication.

Now what would you think if I could prove that your lawmakers were taking thousands of dollars in thinly disguised bribes to vote against a project very much in the public interest?

Keep reading; I am about to do just that.

First, imagine there was a badly needed project that conservatives and liberals agreed the state needed. The governor said it was not only necessary, it wouldn't cost us one cent.

Ford, General Motors and Chrysler endorsed this project. So did every chamber of commerce in sight. Economists said this would create at least 10,000 good-paying jobs, some of them permanent.

Both Washington and the Canadian national governments wanted this project so much they offered Michigan two incredible deals.

Canada would cover every penny of Michigan's costs. We can pay them back later, interest-free, when the project starts making money for the state. Washington said we could use the $550 million Canada was willing to loan us to qualify for $2.2 billion in badly needed highway funds to fix Michigan roads.

Yet the project was opposed by one 84-year-old billionaire, because while it would do wonders for Michigan, it might hurt his ability to make even more money. So he began paying off lawmakers.

He spent millions to run TV commercials to confuse the public, ads that independent analysts agree are lies from beginning to end. He poured cash into campaign coffers, and slipped money to officeholders in other ways. And that's still happening now.

What's more, we have documented proof of at least some of it, thanks to what flimsy campaign finance reporting laws we do have. For those of you who have been trapped in a mine shaft, I am talking, of course, about one Manuel "Matty" Moroun, who is to our community what a large and bloated tick might be to a poor little dog.

New campaign finance reports released last week show that last year, Matty Moroun, along with his wife, son and daughter-in-law, gave at least $242,000 to various state-related political funds.

The total figure was probably considerably higher, because under our inadequate laws, political action committee spending for the last two months of 2011 doesn't have to be disclosed until April. 

The Morouns didn't give this money to help democracy. They own the aging Ambassador Bridge, which was constructed in 1929 and remains the only way to effectively get mass amounts of heavy freight across the Detroit River — something like $125 billion worth every year.

There is no backup for that bridge, and no way we could avoid an economic disaster if anything happened to it.

That's why everyone agrees a second span is necessary. Except the Morouns, who might be forced to survive on the $1.5 billion they are worth now. They've been determined to stop it.

So for years, they gave lavishly to the campaign committees of lawmakers; including those who were most instrumental in preventing any bill supporting a new bridge from reaching the full Legislature. 

Take state Sen. Mike Kowall (R-White Lake) for example. He's the chair of the Senate Economic Development Committee, and did the most to prevent the bridge bill from reaching the Senate floor, where all the members could have voted on it.

Officially, the Morouns only gave him $1,000, considerably less than Democrat Virgil Smith (D-Detroit) who took $3,000 of the Morouns' money and also voted against the bill (he said, because he was concerned the new bridge wouldn't do enough for the neighborhood).

But in reality, Kowall and his wife Eileen, a state representative, got more — much more. Rich Robinson, who runs a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization called the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, helped me sort through the filings.

Records show that Moroun family members gave $50,000 to an organization called Knights of the Round Table two years ago. This has nothing to do with Camelot; it is a political vehicle for Mike Bishop, the former bumbling state Senate Majority Leader who slavishly did Moroun's bidding while in office.

Bishop's Round Table then gave $12,000 last year to something called the North Oakland Political Action Committee, which seems to exist solely for the personal benefit of the Kowalls. "It was used as a vehicle to get goods and services to the Kowalls' campaigns," said Robinson, who spends his time studying these reports, and attempting to bring information like this to light.

Indeed, the North Oakland PAC gave $6,144 in "in-kind goods and services" to the "Friends of Mike Kowall" and $3,144 to "Friends of Eileen Kowall." Nice when you can keep things all in the family.

By the way, ever wonder why, since our Republican governor wants a new bridge, his party hasn't supported him? No mystery here; the Morouns gave $100,000 to the Michigan GOP last year!

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