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  • Lessenberry on the battle to ban the Metro Times

    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’

    A class-action lawsuit has been filed against the owner of Detroit’s municipal solid waste incinerator Monday, accusing the company of nuisance and gross negligence violations According to the complaint filed by Detroit-based Lidle & Dubin P.C., “On occasions too numerous to list, Plaintiffs’ property including Plaintiffs’ neighborhood, residences and yards were physically invaded by noxious odors and contaminants … As a direct and proximate result of the Defendant’s’ negligence in operating and/or maintaining the facility, Plaintiffs’ property has been invaded by noxious odors.” The eight-page complaint charges that local property values have dropped due to the incinerator’s presence, “and has interfered with Plaintiffs’ use and enjoyment of their property.” The lawsuit, filed in Wayne County Circuit Court, seeks a financial award in excess of $25,000 and all costs and attorney fees related to the case. In an email, a spokesperson for the company says, “Detroit Renewable Power is reviewing the complaint filed today,” but declined further comment. The suit follow a Metro Times’ cover story earlier this month on the growing number of odor complaints from nearby residents since Detroit Renewable Power LLC (DRP) took control of the facility in 2010. The story found a spike in citations from the Michigan Department […]

    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

    The High Times Medical Cannabis Cup is more than just a celebration — although with the recent shift in attitudes toward marijuana legalization, there certainly is much to celebrate.  HT‘s Danny Danko described it as “just like any other harvest festival or a county fair where people bring their best produce, their best pigs and horses and cows, and they compete with each other for bragging rights, basically.” Here are a list of winners from this year’s Cannabis Cup, who did indeed walk home with some well-deserved bragging rights — if anyone knows their marijuana it’s High Times: Indica 1ST - Oasis Medical Seeds - Paris OG 2ND - Herbal Solutions - Alien Dawg F2 3RD - Herban Legendz, LLC - Grape OX Sativa 1ST - Arborside Compassion - CATFISH 2ND - Organibliss - Ghost Train Haze #1 3RD - We Grow Education and Collective Centers - MelonGum Hybrid 1ST - Herbal Solutions - Gorilla Glue 2ND - Pure West Compassion Club - Death Star 3RD - Kushman Veganics for Buds & Roses - Veganic Candyland Concentrate 1ST - Mr. B’s Extracts - Raskal’s Lemon 2ND - 710 Savant - Kosher Kush Dewaxed 3RD - Oasis Medical / Vader Extracts / Dab Vader - Candy Jack Shatter Non-Solvent Hash 1ST - NLG - Jedi Kush Ice Wax 2ND - Arborside Compassion - HeadCandy Kush Hash 3RD - New World Seeds Resource […]

    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

Postcards from the ruins

Rush of referendums is bad news for representative government

For weeks now, everyone believed it was curtains for the emergency manager law rammed through the Legislature last year.

We were just waiting for the state to certify that its opponents had, in fact, collected enough signatures to get a measure to repeal it on the November ballot.

Once that happened, the law would be suspended until after the vote. Which probably meant forever, since virtually nobody thought the thing had the ghost of a chance of surviving a statewide vote.

And indeed, last week word finally came that enough signatures had been certified, and the repeal was good to go ...

But not so fast. The Board of State Canvassers last week refused to put the emergency manager repeal on the ballot! Why? Seems that the style of the letters on the petitions wasn't quite right.

The two Democrats on the board said that didn't matter, that the intent of the voters was clear. But the two Republicans said no. Stand Up for Democracy, the group that busted their butts collecting the signatures, cried foul, and headed to court.

They may still win there, but don't count on it. If they do, the case will undoubtedly be appealed up the line to the disgracefully partisan Michigan Supreme Court, where Republicans currently have four of the seven justices. How do you think they will rule?

Outraged workers are howling that what the Republicans did was thwart the will of the people, and they are right.

But Stand Up for Democracy is every bit as much to blame. Normally, every serious group seeking to get something on a ballot brings their petitions to the board of canvassers first, to get their wording, type style, etc., approved. This year, groups as diverse as the ones fighting to save collective bargaining and the one trying to preserve Matty Moroun's stranglehold on trade have done so.

If Stand Up had done that to begin with, they'd be on the ballot today. They didn't, and have paid a heavy price.

Michiganders, however, may end up paying a heavier one, not just with this issue, but when it comes to democracy itself — for other reasons. The attempted emergency manager repeal was a case of frustrated voters attempting to counter an insensitive Legislature.

But more and more, powerful interest groups are also trying to sabotage representative democracy by sticking things on the ballot that would take power out of our elected representatives' hands.

Matty Moroun, no surprise, is in the game. He is attempting to get an amendment on the ballot to effectively prevent any new bridge from ever being built. Unlike the grassroots volunteers of Stand Up for Democracy, his forces are expected to pay to get the needed signatures, something that is, bizarrely, fully legal.

But that's not the scariest prospect. A group called Michigan Alliance for Prosperity wants to essentially take much of the Legislature's power away. They are trying to get something on the ballot that would ban any state tax increases whatever, unless approved by a statewide vote, or something even harder to achieve, a two-thirds majority in both houses of the Legislature.

This group sounds suspiciously like the group Americans for Prosperity, which has been funded by the infamous ultra-right wing oil billionaire brothers, David and Charles Koch. If that is the case, they can probably buy their way on to the ballot too.

Indeed, if all the different petitions out there do get certified, it may take people an hour to vote in November. The unions are trying for a constitutional amendment to protect collective bargaining. Another group wants to make marijuana legal for everyone.

There may also be others floating around. Some ideas I like; some I don't. But the problem is this: The more laws we make by popular vote, the weaker our Legislature becomes.

That's bad, because we have representative democracy for a reason. The Founding Fathers knew most of us would be too busy to see the whole picture, so they set up a system where we elect legislators to do it for us. But now that is being eroded.

We could easily fix this by passing just two more amendments. One, to repeal term limits. The other, to make it harder for special interests to amend the state Constitution.

Otherwise, we could end up with the worst government that money can buy. 


Fantasy Land: There's increasing speculation that longtime Wayne County political boss and fixer Mike Duggan is fixing to run for mayor of Detroit next year. Nolan Finley, editorial page editor of The Detroit News, recently approvingly quoted folks like radio talk show host Mildred Gaddis and former Detroit Councilwoman Sheila Cockrel as saying they "wouldn't rule out," the possibility that Duggan could win next year.

C'mon, people. True, Duggan is apparently in the process of leaving his longtime Livonia home and moving into Palmer Woods.

But does anyone on the street really think a majority of the poor black people of Detroit will vote for a white machine politician for mayor?

These are folks who are resentful now at the state's involvement in trying to steer their dysfunctional and near-bankrupt city.

They are sure to be whipped up by hotheads in the next election — if the next election means anything. There's no guarantee the "consent agreement" won't fall apart, which means Detroit could have an emergency manager by then.

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