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  • 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.

  • 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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Higher Ground

Pot, pols and polls

State AG race an important one for medical marijuana

Just because the Detroit Election Commission chose not to put the question of legalizing marijuana on the Nov. 2 ballot doesn't mean there's no cannabis drama in this election. At least for Michigan medical marijuana activists, the contest for attorney general is crucial.

"We're concerned about the potential election of Bill Schuette as attorney general," says Tim Beck of the Detroit Coalition for Compassionate Care, an organization that supports the use of medical marijuana. "He is obsessed with destroying the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act. He led the opposition back in '08. There's a lot of stuff that he can do that is pretty damaging. We've got some people who are actively helping David Leyton, not that he is a person that wants to give joints to everyone. He believes the will of the voters should be respected. Under Bill Schuette it would be lucky if terminally ill people had access to medical marijuana."

In a debate broadcast on East Lansing's WKAR Public Television last week Schuette, a Republican and former state appellate judge, state senator and congressman, re-stated his opposition to the law that was passed by 63 percent of Michigan voters in 2008. Leyton, the Democratic Genesee County prosecutor, did not take a definitive stance either way during the debate.

According to a Sept. 16 Epic/MRA poll, Schuette leads Leyton by a 39 percent to 25 percent margin among voters, with 31 percent undecided and 5 percent going with minor candidates. A key finding in the poll was that most Michiganders just don't know who Leyton is, while longtime officeholder Schuette enjoys wide name recognition. I left a voice mail message at the campaign office of Schuette and sent an e-mail to the campaign of Leyton; neither of them got back to me by press time. Other candidates, Gerald Van Sickle of the U.S. Taxpayers Party and Libertarian Daniel Grow, were not included in the debate.

Overall, Leyton has focused his campaign on government reform; Schuette has highlighted a tough-on-crime message. However, the attorney general's office is important to the medical marijuana question because it can set the agenda for the state by choosing whether to go after compassion clubs or even doctors who seem too prone to recommend marijuana to patients — which qualifies them to apply for state cards. The Michigan Medical Marihuana Act clearly states that patients can legally grow, possess and use the plant, and designated caregivers can grow plants for specific patients. It is less clear when it comes to distribution between patients in more dispensary-like settings.

California-like dispensaries are not addressed in the act and are illegal, which is why Michigan has compassion clubs, places where transfers between patients and suppliers who aren't necessarily their designated caregivers take place. When it comes to these clubs, current Attorney General Mike Cox has left any enforcement up to local authorities.

The result is that things are all over the place — mirroring the hodgepodge of medical marijuana laws across the 14 states and the District of Columbia that allow it. Communities such as Livonia and Royal Oak have taken fairly prohibitive stances toward distribution centers, while Ypsilanti, Roseville, Niles and Allen Park have allowed compassion clubs with various restrictions. Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard has taken a tough stance, busting dispensary-style compassion clubs in Ferndale and Waterford in August for alleged violations of rules about how much and between what parties marijuana can be transferred. Advocates say patient-to-patient transfers are legal; that is where the legal debate stands.

"Each municipality has to figure out for themselves how they want to deal with this, with no guidance from the attorney general," says Jamie Lowell, of the Third Coast Compassion Center in Ypsilanti. "I've been to a lot of meetings. They all have a different idea. For some people, their mind is open but it's totally foreign to whatever they've thought before. They need to be educated, sometimes opposing forces get there first. Sometime they restrict it to home growing, some allow for commercial enterprises, sometimes they're completely prohibitive."

Dispensaries, or compassion clubs as proponents call them, are cropping up all over the state with different levels of response from their communities. That could change under an attorney general who decides to take on the issue and use the position as a bully pulpit to challenge dispensary-like operations across the state. The costs of fighting busts in court could financially crush some operations, regardless of the legal outcomes; the threat of busts could dissuade others from getting into the business at all.

"Schuette's guidance is, 'No, they are prohibited, they need to be busted,'" says Beck. "He can lean on prosecutors to do that."

The medical marijuana law itself can't be changed without a three-quarter super majority of the state Legislature, but the details of how it's administered will be fought out in the courts. Decisions and precedents will govern what's allowed. Some of it comes down to a question of whether you can teach an old dog new tricks. After a lifetime of drug wars and prohibition, can our law enforcement officers change their attitude toward marijuana used for medical purposes?

"It actually happens quite quickly," says Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws in Washington, D.C. "As juries come back and nullify the prohibitions, when law enforcement comes back with a similar case, prosecutors don't take them on. If past is prologue, across all states, the statistical chance of getting a jury to go against a well-defended medical marijuana patient or grower will go down."

While Leyton may have waffled on where he stands vis-�-vis medical marijuana during his WKAR debate, activists are very clear that they want him as attorney general rather than Schuette.

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