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    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.

  • City Slang: Margaret Doll Rod to play EP release show in May

    Margaret Doll Rod will celebrate the release of her new EP, Margaret, with a show at PJ’s Lager House on Saturday, May 10. A statement reads, “The EP contains 3 new original songs and one Chrome Cranks cover with Italian actress Asia Argento singing background vocals. Margaret moved to Italy after the end of the Demolition Doll Rods where she still lives touring and performing festivals in Europe. The Dollrods were a Garage Rock force for over 20 years, opening for Iggy, Jon Spencer, The Scientist, The Monks and The Cramps. Margaret was the front person and principal songwriter for The Dollrods. Her chief musical foil was Danny Kroha, who joined the Demolition Doll Rods after the now legendary Gories called it quits. Margaret’s sister, Christine, on drums, rounded out the legendary trio. Margaret will do a special performance in the round that night with a 360 degree revolving stage and special guest DJ Adam Stanfel.” The bill will also feature the Stomp Rockets and the Volcanos. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Margaret Doll Rod to play EP release show in May appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Music review roundup

    Send CDs, vinyl, cassettes, demos and 8-tracks to Brett Callwood, Metro Times, 1200 Woodward Heights, Ferndale MI 48220. Email MP3s and streaming links to Ricky Rat’s Tokyo Pop/Glitter People (New Fortune) 7” single highlights all that’s great about the Trash Brats guitarist, but also his limitations. The man can write a bubblegum rock ’n’ roll song to match anyone in the city and most beyond. He’s also a killer guitarist, ripping out one throwaway riff after another with reckless abandon. He’s a machine. On his own though, without Trash Brats frontman Brian McCarty, his voice doesn’t have enough strength to do the songs justice. Not that you need to have the greatest voice in the world to sing this stuff – you don’t need to be able to perform vocal gymnastics – but you do have to be able to wail the tunes out. Both of the songs on this single are great, but you can’t help but wonder how much better they would sound with McCarty or somebody similar talking the mic. Still, as they are the songs are great fun. We’re just being picky. The Paper Sound’s Trajectories is a dense, atypically dark Americana-tinged album, unrelenting and […]

    The post City Slang: Music review roundup appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit launches website to auction city-owned homes

    “Neighbors wanted.” That’s the message on the homepage of, a new website launched by the City of Detroit today to auction off city-owned homes to prospective buyers who pledge to fix them up and move in. “We are moving aggressively to take these abandoned homes and get families living in them again,” Mayor Mike Duggan said in a statement today. “There are a lot of people who would love to move into many of our neighborhoods. Knowing that other people are going to be buying and fixing up the other vacant homes at the same time will make it a lot easier for them to make that commitment.” The website to facilitate the auctions went live this afternoon. The first auction is scheduled to take place Monday, May 5. Officials said in a news release that one home will be auctioned per day, Monday through Friday. Fifteen homes are available for sale on the site, a dozen of which are in the East English Village neighborhood. Any Michigan resident, company, or organization that can do business in the state can bid, according to the website. Properties will be for sale for only one day, with bidding taking place from 8 […]

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  • Tickets for Steven Spielberg, John Williams summer concert sell out in 15 minutes

    In case you haven’t heard, two of the biggest names in film, Steven Spielberg and John Williams, are collaborating to put on a benefit concert for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra this summer. In case you wanted to go- well, you’re too damn late. The DSO says tickets to the June 14 concert were snapped up in a record-breaking 15 minutes after they went on sale at 9 a.m. today. The DSO has since released this statement to fans who didn’t snag seats: Our apologies to everyone who was unable to buy tickets this morning for our historic benefit concert featuring John Williams and Steven Spielberg. Despite increasing our phone and internet system capacity for the day, a surge of hundreds of ticket buyers purchased tickets in a matter of minutes, filling the phone lines and temporarily maxing out our web servers. After a one-hour pre-sale made available to donors and subscribers at 8am, we released additional seats at 9am to the general public, including seats available for as low as $30. All seats sold out immediately. The concert program seems nothing short of top notch: Williams will conduct the orchestra as it performs some of his most iconic tunes, such […]

    The post Tickets for Steven Spielberg, John Williams summer concert sell out in 15 minutes appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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Politics & Prejudices

Prince Fielder and the poor folks

Poverty slams poor kids; he gets $214 million; we're one sick society

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

Last week the Michigan League for Human Services released its yearly report on the status of children in this state.

Not surprisingly, the report, called the Kids Count Data Book, was depressing as hell. Most of what attention the study received in the media focused on the news that child abuse in the state jumped by 34 percent as the recession deepened and worsened.

That, and the fact that nearly half the kids in the state now qualify for free or reduced-price school lunches. To poverty experts, both things were about as surprising as learning that people in primitive areas tend to die of thirst when there is a major drought.

Naturally, we've taken precautions in this country to assure a steady water supply, at least enough to keep people alive. But making sure our kids are well-fed and protected — well, that would be socialism! Only commies would want to go that far.

The thing that haunted me most about this report, however, was neither of those two statistics, but the finding that "too many children suffer from dental decay and pain that cause difficulty chewing, concentrating, sleeping and swallowing."

Worse, "more than one in four third-graders in Michigan have untreated dental disease." Call me a commie all you want, but when I read that I would gleefully have given an abscessed tooth to — and withheld painkillers from — every right-wing moron who voted to take away support from 29,000 poor children last year.

There wasn't too much anyone could say to challenge the truth of the Kids Count Data Book findings. The Michigan League for Human Services is a rigorously nonpartisan, nonprofit agency that has been around for almost a century.

This particular study was financed by a prestigious group of foundations that range from Annie E. Casey to the Skillman and Blue Cross Blue Shield. Had the Kids Count findings received widespread attention in the media, it could conceivably have made a difference.

Even some who would spit on poor adults might have a problem with third graders, poor and hungry through no fault of their own, crying because of infected teeth. But not to worry.

The Kids Count report actually got little press, because there was far bigger and more significant news that day: The Detroit Tigers announced they were signing a 27-year-old baseball player named Prince Fielder to a nine-year contract for $214 million.

Yes, you read that right. Almost a quarter of a billion dollars for a heavy-set player who cannot run or field especially well, but who hits a lot of home runs. Wait a minute; forget that.

Can you really imagine, in any sane universe, paying that much money to a single baseball player, even if he sold all the tickets himself, batted .750, and painted the stadium at night?

Consider this: If you made $214,000 a year, which is more than the vast majority of us, it would take 1,000 years for you to make as much money as Prince will make over nine years.

Looked at another way, he will make about $65,000 a day, seven days a week, that whole time. Far as I can tell, thousands and thousands of us think that is wonderful. Think that is wonderful, in a world where we are cutting little kids off any cash assistance, and where they are being abused by desperate and unemployed parents.

We seem to think that is appropriate in a state where little kids can't learn because their teeth hurt too much; where two out of every five children depend on Medicaid for medical care, and where our politicians are doing their best to cut that too.

We think it appropriate to pay a ballplayer approximately 50 times the salary of the president of the United States in a place where almost 1 million normal jobs have disappeared over the last decade.

We think it is fine for Fielder to be paid several times what the state will save this year by eliminating the last shards of the safety net keeping tens of thousands of kids from hunger.

Fielder's salary, by the way, is almost twice the amount the Legislature and former Gov. Jennifer Granholm saved by breaking their promise to kids who had been assured by the state they would receive a Michigan Promise college scholarship. 

Now I can just see the little basement righties rushing to their blogs to say how outrageous my comments are. Why, how can that horrible socialist compare public money to private riches!

Mike Ilitch earned those hundreds of millions by selling cheap pizza to the masses. Nobody has the right to tell him how to spend it.

Some may even suggest that I am attempting to stir up — gasp — class warfare! Well, I won't bother to deny it. Every time our supercautious president dares to suggest that a billionaire ought to pay as high a percentage of his income in taxes as, say, his secretary, the little acolytes of bloated fools like Rush Limbaugh bleat "class warfare."

Well, guess what. I am an enormous baseball fan, and think many players in the old days, like Al Kaline, were badly underpaid.

But I know that a society that cheers paying Prince Fielder hundreds of millions of dollars and lets little kids go hungry is a society run by really sick fucks. And if that's class warfare, let's make the most of it. 

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