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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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Politics & Prejudices

Scoundrel time

Mike Bishop has no problem costing us jobs to please political patron

Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, an ambitious politician on the make with a law degree, a real estate license and grease in his hair, is more than happy to cost this region tens of thousands of mostly high-paying jobs, just to please one greedy, aging billionaire.

What's worse is that he is getting away with it, because he can, thanks to a corrupt Legislature and apathetic public. To pull this off, he also had to lie to the people, but he couldn't care less about that.

Last May, Bishop promised an up-or-down vote on legislation that, if approved, would allow a public-private partnership to build a badly needed new bridge across the Detroit River to move forward. Then, this month, he said, too bad. He wouldn't keep his word, and he wouldn't let the Senate vote. He was worried, you see, that they might act with the public's best interests in mind.

Bishop has always been against anything progressive, especially if big business or insurance interests wanted him to be. He tried to block the restaurant smoking ban until even his fellow Republicans revolted against him.

Naturally, he wanted to stop the new bridge, the Detroit River International Crossing. True, the new bridge is badly needed. Currently, billions of dollars in heavy manufacturing components move between Michigan and Ontario over the Ambassador Bridge, which was built in 1929, is not made for today's giant tractor-trailer trucks, and is in need of serious repair.

There's also little security to speak of, and one fanatic with a bomb could plunge our state and Canada's biggest province into an authentic depression. But none of that is important to Bishop. What matters to him is that Matty Moroun, the 83-year-old billionaire who owns the Ambassador Bridge, doesn't want anybody infringing on his monopoly; to protect it, he has shelled out vast sums to legislators, mostly Republicans, in the form of campaign donations. And that's only the money we know about. Moroun has also given money for legislative parties, Senate caucus events, and he is utterly ruthless.

Last month, Jeff Gaudette, a Canadian who had worked for the Ambassador Bridge for 20 years, ran for a seat on the Windsor City Council. He lost. So Moroun fired him. "I've been bullied by the biggest bully in town," said Gaudette. Actually, Gaudette, a steward for a Teamsters local, was directly fired not by Moroun, but by his chief henchman, Dan Stamper — who did so via speakerphone.

Gaudette's real crime was evidently not losing, though he thinks he would have kept his job ("those guys would be kissing my butt") if he had won. He thinks he was really fired for bringing attention to a crack in the concrete on the Canadian side. That's a hanging offense in Morounland. "I'm not an engineer, but I think we need to look at the bridge and the safety of it," Gaudette told the Windsor Star.

By the way, does it seem odd to you that our nation's most important border crossing should be owned and totally controlled by one shadowy businessman? If not, I'd say you are either spending too much time reading Ayn Rand or are receiving handouts from Matty Moroun.

Or, you might be Mike Bishop. He did offer a flimsy excuse for breaking his word and not allowing a vote: He said the Michigan Department of Transportation hadn't supplied him with enough information. MDOT said this was nonsense.

The Canadians were offended. They, after all, have gone out on a limb to make sure Michigan has nothing to lose. Canada knows how important a new bridge is to both nations' economic futures. Ottawa also knows how cash-strapped Michigan is right now, and stunned onlookers by announcing it would cover Michigan's share of the costs, as much as $550 million. We could repay it later via tolls.

That forced Bishop and his equally contemptible understudy, Senate Majority Floor Leader Alan Cropsey, to claim this might infringe on our national sovereignty, and make other ridiculous arguments. Their fellow Republican, Senate Transportation Committee Chair Jud Gilbert, was working on a bill that would allow the DRIC bridge and allay any of those fears — when Bishop stopped the process.

Nobody has to look far for the reason why: According to the Detroit News and the respected Gongwer News Service: "Moroun and his family gave more than $400,000 this year to candidates and political action committees, and a significant portion of that went to committees controlled by Bishop, committees helping Senate Republicans or Bishop's unsuccessful campaign for attorney general."

The Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce is generally a pro-business, pro-Republican organization, not given to emotion or sentiment. They know what Bishop has done to the region. "We're disappointed Bishop is blocking the creation of up to 35,000 jobs in the Detroit region, but we will continue to push for the DRIC bridge," said Sarah Hubbard, the chamber's senior vice president for government relations, adding, "This project has been debated for at least 10 years — there is no reason to delay any longer."

The chamber believes that there's no risk to the taxpayers. The tolls, Hubbard said, "would be more than enough to repay bonds used to build it and maintain and operate the bridge."

There may still be a glimmer of hope. The lame-duck session of the Legislature lasts a couple more weeks. If voters protest vigorously enough, the other senators could force Bishop to allow something called democracy to occur in the chamber. Or possibly not. Term limits mean most are leaving forever in January, and some may want a job from Moroun. Meanwhile, Bishop is reportedly scheming to run for Oakland County prosecutor in 2012. Remember who he is, if and when he does run for anything. Remember the 35,000 jobs that could have been created.

And this time, get off your asses and do something about it.

Michigan man to head the Republican Party?
Saul Anuzis, who spent four years as chair of the Michigan GOP, is challenging Michael Steele for the job of Republican National Committee chairman. Anuzis ran for the job two years ago, but pulled out after five ballots. Steele, who hasn't said whether he will run again, was seen as a laughingstock for much of his tenure. He was always rumored to be on the brink of being fired, but he may have gotten a new lease on life after the Republican landslide victories this fall.

Anuzis, on the other hand, may be at a disadvantage because he presided over a period when the Michigan GOP lost two elections, big time. But don't let that fool you: Democrats should quietly be hoping that he doesn't get the top national job.

That's because Anuzis has formidable skills. He is tech-savvy, a whiz at raising money, and excellent with the press, though he isn't interested in making himself the story or in running for office. A Harley-riding son of Lithuanian immigrants, he grew up in a blue-collar Detroit family. He can relate to constituents many Republicans can't. The national party would be smart to hire him. My guess is they won't be.

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