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  • 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.

  • 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 bcallwood@metrotimes.com. 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 buildingdetroit.org, 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 […]

    The post Detroit launches website to auction city-owned homes appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • 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

Saving Detroit

Drastic measures are necessary right now

Photo: , License: N/A


Detroit, contrary to what some think who never come here, is anything but dead. Last Saturday we went down to Eastern Market for lunch and found that, even in the blustery cold, there was an hour wait to get into Vivio's, and a line even longer for the Russell Street Deli. So we fled to the funky Bucharest Grill, close to the Fox Theatre, near where rumors say a new hockey palace may go up.

Even there, with not much going on, we had to wait briefly to be seated. Though the Bucharest is known for shawarma, I had an absolutely first-rate hamburger and was happy as an old crank can be.

Except when I walked back to the car, and studied all the ruined and deserted and abandoned buildings. In a way, it felt like what eating in Berlin in 1946 must have felt like, with one exception.

Their war was over. The war for the future of Detroit is still raging on, and it is clear that city government as it now stands can't be part of the solution. It has failed and is failing in every way.

Nor can the city, as things now stand, possibly succeed.

There is no money. Detroit has lost so many cops it cannot even guarantee a minimum of public safety to the neighborhoods. The firefighters don't even have soap or toilet paper in their firehouses.

And while it still isn't clear whether Detroit can balance its budget, it is clear that the city will never be able to do anything about the billions and billions in unfunded liabilities hanging out there.

Detroit, as things now stand, cannot go on much longer. 

This is highlighted by the sheer clownish incompetence of the characters on City Council, from the strutting and preening Charles Pugh, the one-time TV anchor who can't pay his bills, on.

Mayor Dave Bing may not be as dynamic or as decisive a leader as the city needs. But it's not clear that anyone could work with this council. There are, to be sure, a few sane members — Gary Brown and Ken Cockrel Jr. But the rest seem caught up either in sheer inability to understand what's going on, or some stubborn, outdated and pigheaded racial idea that Detroit has to be protected from those white folks who secretly want to come back and take it away.

So they vote no on everything, like screaming 2-year-olds having temper tantrums. The state wants to pour money into crumbling Belle Isle, make it a state park? Absolutely not.

Reform the Department of Water and Sewerage? Hell, no. Sign a contract with a law firm that the state says is necessary before Lansing gives Detroit any more cash. NO MAMA NOOOO! What about selling some vacant land to developer John Hantz, so he can put a lovely tree farm on the dilapidated east side? They won't even make a decision.

In a small way, their total failure to behave as adults may be a blessing. It should make it that much easier for the Legislature to pass a new Emergency Manager Law as quickly as possible.

True, voters narrowly rejected the old one, and the lawmakers should take note of that. But emergency measures are needed.

Then, Gov. Rick Snyder should give up on a consent agreement that has plainly failed, and appoint someone with the ability and power to try to make Detroit work. That will be anything but easy.

Ideally, there would be a two-stage process. First, the no-longer-realistic contracts, the inefficient procedures and the bad debts have to be gotten out of the way. Plans have to be executed — fast — to restore some standard of public safety.

Procedures have to be put in place so that if someone like Hantz has a plan to improve the city, some rational authority will be able to make a reasonable ruling in a timely fashion.

Meanwhile, our relentless positive-action governor needs to be thinking of how to make Detroit work in the long term. Eventually merging Detroit and Wayne County would make all kinds of sense.

Actually, a tri-county authority ought to be immediately empowered to handle transportation — a unified bus service — and perhaps other functions. What matters is making things work.

Now, there's bound to be lots of opposition. Many politicians in Detroit will say any form of state action — other than to give them money to spend as they please — is outrageous.

They say this just proves that "they" want to take the city away. But I have news for them: Detroit politicians don't own Detroit.

We all do. The state of Michigan does. Cities, under our state constitution, are creatures of the state.

The Legislature can break up any city as a governmental unit, require it to merge with other cities, create new cities, anything our statewide lawmakers think is appropriate.

But at the same time, everyone who lives in Michigan has a responsibility to and a vested interest in fixing Detroit.

Thousands of businessmen, most of them white, got rich here, and then took their money and their businesses and skedaddled for the suburbs. They have a responsibility to Detroit as well. We all do.

Mike Duggan, they tell me, is convinced he can save Detroit if he is elected mayor. Frankly, I don't think he can and I don't think he can get elected, but it's now almost irrelevant who our next mayor is.

What matters is that we make this a city worth living in and one worth being mayor of, whatever that takes.

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