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  • Detroit area code 313 may be phased out

    Hey, everybody from the 313, start thinking of new numbers to rally around– the longstanding Detroit area code may be phased out. Our friends over at the Detroit News report that pending a revised estimate next week, the North American Numbering Plan Administration will stop handing out 313 telephone prefixes on new phone numbers. Detroiters with existing cell phone lines would be able to keep their current area codes, while those with land lines would change. via Detroit News: The venerable 313 will ultimately become overtaxed. Even as Detroit’s population has fallen, cellphone usage has accelerated like one of those smoldering SRT Vipers that Dodge has been bolting together at Conner Avenue Assembly — which is, of course, comfortably within the confines of 313. … When the first five dozen area codes were assigned nearly 70 years ago, says NANPA’s Tom Foley, “that was expected basically to last forever.” Instead, somebody invented fax machines, and then somebody else came up with cellphones, and lots of somebody elses decided to give them to 10-year-olds, and meantime the population grew to 300 million. Now every telephone carrier is required to submit twice-yearly forecasts of its needs in each area code, factoring in […]

    The post Detroit area code 313 may be phased out appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Final members selected for Red Wings arena Neighborhood Advisory Council

    Unfortunately, we were unable to attend last night’s Neighborhood Advisory Council, which, in case you were unaware, is a 16-member board established to weigh in on the new Red Wings arena near downtown. About three dozen residents and property owners cast ballots by the 8 p.m. deadline on Wednesday inside the Block at Cass Park, The Detroit News reports. It’s the culmination of a handful of community meetings which began weeks ago. Councilwoman Raquel Castaneda Lopez facilitated the meetings, but emphasized at previous meetings that it’s up to the community to conduct business. According to the News, the 12 candidates selected include: Michael Boettcher, Richard Etue, Jason Gapa, Francis Grunow, Steve Guether, Paul Hughes, Ray Litt, Warner Doyle McBryde, Karen McLeod, Delphia Simmons, Melissa Thomas and Anthony Zander. Joel Landy, a land owner in the area, lost his bid. The City Council appointed four candidates last month. As we reported in this week’s issue, the Neighborhood Advisory Committee was negotiated after Olympia Development of Michigan, Detroit Red Wing’s owner Mike Ilitch’s real estate arm, balked on a proposed community benefits agreement.  The committee is charged with the task of offering input on the arena’s design, parking security and more.

    The post Final members selected for Red Wings arena Neighborhood Advisory Council appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • James McMurtry and The Bottle Rockets coming to the Magic Bag

    The Magic Bag in Ferndale will host James McMurtry and The Bottle Rockets on Thursday, May 28, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20. A press release reads, “James McMurtry recently signed with the bourgeoning Los Angeles record label Complicated Game. The legendary songwriter will enter the studio later this month to start working on his first album in six years. “I’ve got a new batch of songs, organic and with no added sulfites, aged in oak for several years,” he says. “Francois Moret at Complicated Game seems to like these songs and (producer) C.C. Adcock thinks he can turn them into a record. Good times fixing to roll.” Label head Moret agrees. “In March 2013, when C.C. Adcock told me we were going to see James McMurtry at the Continental Club in Austin, I expected to see a good show,” he says, “but what I saw left me mesmerized! I immediately knew I wanted to sign him. As a European, it is an amazing opportunity to work with one of the most talented American singer-songwriters.” Evidence: McMurtry’s Just Us Kids (2008) and Childish Things (2005). The former earned his highest Billboard 200 chart position in nearly two decades and notched […]

    The post James McMurtry and The Bottle Rockets coming to the Magic Bag appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Dead Kennedys to have a holiday in Detroit

    The Dead Kennedys, still with local boy Klaus Flouride in the ranks, will play St. Andrew’s Hall on Tuesday, June 24. Alongside Flouride and fellow original members East Bay Ray and DH Peligro, the current lineup includes singer Ron “Skip” Greer, taking the place of Jello Biafra. Downtown Brown will open that show, which starts at 7 p.m., with tickets priced $20-$25. Give Klaus a hero’s hometown welcome. Just over a week before that, strangely enough, Jello Biafra & the Guantanamo School of Medicine will play at the Magic Stick. It’s a weird coincidence, but one that DK fans should be happy to embrace. That show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $17-$19. Local hardcore vets Negative Approach play before Jello, with the Crashdollz opening the show. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Dead Kennedys to have a holiday in Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Planet Ant presents A Steady Rain

    The Planet Ant Theatre in Hamtramck will present a police drama called A Steady Rain May 2 through 24. Planet Ant veterans Ryan Carlson and York Griffith will star in the play, written by House of Cards and Mad Men co-writer Keith Huff. Tickets ($10-$20) are on sale now at PlanetAnt.com. According to the press release, “A Steady Rain by Keith Huff focuses on Joey and Denny, best friends since kindergarten and partners on the police force whose loyalty to each other is tested by domestic affairs, violence and the rough streets of Chicago. Joey helps Denny with his family and Denny helps Joey stay off the bottle. But when a routine disturbance call takes a turn for the worse their loyalty is put to the ultimate test.First produced at Chicago Dramatists, A Steady Rain appeared on Broadway featuring Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig. The Planet Ant production of A Steady Rain is directed by York Griffith featuring Ryan Carlson and Andy Huff. This marks the return of two of Planet Ant’s founding members. Carlson and Griffith. Griffith has served as the theatre’s Artistic Director where he directed the critically-acclaimed productions The Adding Machine and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? […]

    The post Planet Ant presents A Steady Rain appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • You can wear Detroit’s blight on your face

    There is no easy answer to the question regarding what should be done with Detroit’s abandoned homes. However, an Eastern Market company has a solution that could reflect Detroit’s possibly bright future. Homes Eyewear has set out to make the city a little more stylish, and do their part in cleaning it up by repurposing select woods from neglected homes for sunglasses. All of the wood that Homes uses is harvested from vacant houses with the assistance of Reclaim Detroit. A lot of work goes into prepping the wood to be cut and shaped into frames. Homes goes through each piece to remove nails, paint or anything else detrimental to their production (it’s a bit strange to think that your wooden sunglasses could have had family portraits nailed to them). In order to produce more durable eyewear, they salvage only hardwoods like maple or beech, which are difficult to come by as most of the blighted homes were built with softer woods like Douglas fir and pine. If you’re worried about looking goofy, or shudder at the thought of salvaged wood resting on your nose, you can rest easy. Homes currently offers frames in the popular wayfarer style and are developing their unique spin on the classic aviators. For as […]

    The post You can wear Detroit’s blight on your face appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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Politics & Prejudices

Senate dumbs down

The faulty belief that tax cuts are more important than producing more qualified graduates

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Last week, Michigan Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing) made a stunning proposal: How about closing all the loopholes in the tax system — and using that money to give every high school graduate in the state a college education?

That's not a silly idea. Michigan is one of the most undereducated states in the nation, a legacy of our old brawn-based economy, when anybody could get a good-paying job shuffling car parts on an assembly line. Everyone knows those days are gone, and are never coming back.

Once, Michigan, especially metropolitan Detroit, boasted some of the nation's highest average incomes. Today we are an appalling 39th out of the 50 states, and sinking further. (Haiti, here we come!) Michigan's growing poverty is in large part because we are more poorly educated than most states.

There is a direct cause-and-effect relationship, which gets stronger every year. Except for a few small oil- and gas-rich states like Wyoming, North Dakota and Alaska, the nation's richest states are all those with the highest proportion of college-educated adults. If Michigan is ever going to be a prosperous state again, we are going to have to find a way to compete for the high-tech, new economy jobs of the future, and you need an educated work force to do that.

The wonder is that we haven't already established a crash program to educate every reasonably intelligent young person who is smart enough for the jobs of the future. That's sort of what the federal government did when the Russians launched Sputnik and beat us into space, back in the late '50s.

That worked amazingly well. But today's shortsighted politicians haven't the faintest interest in doing anything like pouring resources into education. No, they think it is far more important to give existing businesses yet another tax cut.

State Sen. Jack Brandenburg is the Macomb County Republican in charge of the upper house's finance committee. "I don't think the state can afford to do both," to give businesses another tax break and to give kids a chance at a future.

And when it comes to a choice, Brandenburg made it clear that he will choose to shortchange the state's kids. His priority: "the personal property tax cut to manufacturers. I think we really have to concentrate on getting our economy on track."

Naturally, he, and the governor and all the Republicans will get their way. Businessmen matter more than students to them; the past is more important than the future. Whitmer's Democrats don't even have enough strength in the state Senate to fill two minivans. Jack Brandenburg is an interesting case. To be fair, he isn't malevolent, as far as I can tell. Nor filthy rich.

He just isn't very smart.

He told the Gongwer News Service, which sells its reports to media and special interests who can afford to pay for it, "Myself, I think that what we have to do here in Michigan is create a economy and get this economy back working. And [then] our kids will stay here."

Hard to disagree with that. That's exactly what we need to do. But it's hard to see how giving tax cuts to established, old-economy businesses is going to do that. Last year, Gov. Rick Snyder and his enthusiastic pals in the Legislature cut taxes for Michigan corporations by more than two-thirds. They paid for this by taxing pensions and shortchanging the schools.

They also cut revenue-sharing to local governments, and now mean to screw them further. Most of the revenue from the "personal property tax," which really is a business property tax, goes to local governments. The Legislature proposes to replace only about four-fifths of that, which would be a disaster.

Many cities and townships are already severely strapped for cash. There will be more crises, more layoffs, probably more emergency managers. But business owners will be richer, and, for some reason, people like Jack Brandenburg and Rick Snyder believe they are going to create new jobs as a result, evidently good-paying jobs for largely unskilled, uneducated laborers.

Why would anyone think such a thing? Because they are stuck in the past. Brandenburg's website talks proudly of how his father started as a truck driver for a Pepsi-Cola dealership and rose to become president of the company.

His son the state senator is now 60; he managed to get a four-year degree in business from a small college in Ohio. But he essentially founded an industrial supply company out of the trunk of his car, and built it into a profitable business.

That's not possible anymore. Part of Brandenburg's mind dimly realizes it; he sent his four kids to Michigan colleges, and has been known to complain about how much that cost. "I have always thought that our state universities were overpriced," he complained recently. 

The problem is that Republicans like Brandenburg act as if they think cutting funding for higher education is actually going to bring tuition costs down.

Brandenburg and his ilk should listen to some real business leaders, the folks at Business Leaders for Michigan, who held a summit last week called "growing a higher education marketplace."

Led by Doug Rothwell, these are the forward-thinking, progressive business types who aren't squatting outside abandoned factories, waiting for Oldsmobile to come back.

The summit was eye-opening. If Brandenburg had gone, he might have learned that Michigan universities have far lower overhead costs than schools in many other large states.

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