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  • The Ypsilanti mystery pooper saga continues

    Ypsilanti police are still searching for the person dubbed the “mystery pooper.” Someone has been, as the Associated Press politely puts it today, “soiling slides at an Ypislanti playground over the last six months.” So, of course, someone purchased an electronic billboard along I-94 near Huron St. at exit 183 that delivers multiple calls for action: For instance,”Help us flush the pooper.” The company that purchased the billboard, Adams Outdoor Advertising, knows how to reach the world in the 21st Century, branding each billboard with a hashtag for the public utilize in its efforts: #ypsipooper. WJBK-TV says the billboard also toggles through other rich lines, such as: “Do your civic doody, report the pooper #YPSIPOOPER” “Help us catch the poopetrator #YPSIPOOPER.” You can have the runs, but you can’t hide. They’re still looking for you, Mystery Pooper.

    The post The Ypsilanti mystery pooper saga continues appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: DJ AvA, Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp preview Movement at Urban Bean Co.

    It’s a really, very cool idea. Paxahau, the good people behind the Movement Electronic Music Festival, are hosting a series of warm-up events, or previews, to the big festival which takes place Memorial Day weekend. On Thursday evening, Movement moved into the Urban Coffee Bean on Grand River in Detroit. While Dj AvA and Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp ably worked the decks, the regular coffee shop goings on continued behind them. It made for an interesting and amusing webcast experience – one guy was taking a nap on camera, while others supped coffee and tappd their feet. It should come as no surprise – the Urban Coffee Co. people have always been big supporters of electronic music. The place includes a DJ stand, and co-owner Josh Greenwood encourages customers to bring their own vinyl and spin on the open turntables. Not on Thursday night though. This being a coffee shop, and it not being particularly late at night, the music remained pretty chill throughout. DJ AvA (real name Heather McGuigan) includes Beth Orton, Madonna, the B-52’s, Daftpunk and David Byrne among her list of influences, so you know that she’s capable of both whipping up a storm and also […]

    The post City Slang: DJ AvA, Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp preview Movement at Urban Bean Co. appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • 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.

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Politics & Prejudices

Snyder house rules

The massive transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich continues

Well, Governor Rick Snyder pulled it off. He got the Legislature to enact his massive tax cut for business and slap a tax on future pension income. This will be paid for — in part — by shortchanging education at all levels, from elementary to graduate school.

Film industry tax credits are out the window, as are breaks for cleaning up brownfields. This follows earlier legislation making it easier to appoint emergency financial managers, and giving them broad new powers. Public employees, especially teachers, are bound to see their benefits cut as well. All this has people in a tizzy.

Most of the business community is ecstatically happy. Most of those who care about education and the poor — or those who are part of those communities themselves — are apoplectic.

You can hardly blame them. If this state has any future, it lies not only in attracting new jobs; it is having a better-educated workforce. On top of that, the Snyder house rules continue an ominous trend in America that began with Ronald Reagan: the massive transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich. State Rep. Maureen Stapleton of Detroit put it eloquently. With Michigan struggling to recover from the long recession, "Snyder and the Legislature threaten to derail it by ramming though the largest redistribution of wealth in our state's history."

True, that. But Stapleton is not a leader in the Democratic caucus, and neither she nor her party's leadership is putting forth any kind of alternative plan. Democrats, by the way, have essentially no power whatsoever in Lansing today. But you'd think they'd offer some kind of alternative people could buy into.

That's what an opposition "shadow government" would do in most parliamentary democracies. That would give something to responsibly rally people around. But they aren't.

Yes, the Democrats are denouncing Snyder. State Sen. Steve Bieda of Warren said the governor is "shifting the tax [burden] to those who are least able to pay in society." Again, that's true enough. But why isn't his leader, the charismatic Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, putting forward a plan?

Simple. She, and they, don't want to commit to anything. Standing for something is bound to alienate somebody. They prefer to bleat "Snyder is bad," and hope to pick up the pieces when the state economy runs off the rails.

This may not be bad short-term politics. America would have voted for almost any Democrat after eight years of George W. Bush. Michigan would have voted for a spotted Republican gerbil after eight years of the vacant charisma of Jennifer Granholm.

Yet not standing for anything is not responsible policy, nor does it help people believe the system can still fix things and help them. That's why you have frustrated hordes either joining irrational protests like the so-called Tea Party movement, or wasting their energies on an almost-certainly-doomed effort to recall Snyder.

What we need is honesty, straight talk and a program to reinvent the state without trampling the poor in the dust. This state badly needs to attract new business — Snyder isn't wrong about that.

The auto industry isn't ever going to supply jobs in sufficient quantity again, and the Democrats haven't a clue of how to create any. But that doesn't mean we should leave those who are displaced to starve in desperation amid rusting abandoned machinery.

Even worse, shortchanging our kids on education and further neglecting our infrastructure is just plain stupid — even from the standpoint of job creation. Does the governor really think he is going to lure high-tech job creators to a state with king-size potholes on the roads and concrete falling off overpasses?

Does he think middle-class people are going to move to a place where the schools are inferior and declining everywhere?

Let's make shared sacrifice have some meaning, damn it. So in the absence of any intellectually coherent opposition to the Snyder reforms, let me present my program. We'll call it the Fair and Responsible Program for Michigan's Economic Reconstruction.

Leave the lowered business taxes where they are. We need to take a gamble to get new industry and jobs, and since the governor was elected on a platform of doing this, we'll try it.

However — we need to raise the Michigan Income Tax rate to make sure we provide a decent education, decent services, and an acceptable quality of life. Those of us who are still working ought to carry more of the burden. I'd boost it from 4.35 to 6 percent now.

We might index this to the unemployment rate so it gradually declines to 5 percent — but no more than that. That will raise a few hundred million dollars, but we can responsibly get much more.

Drop the sales tax from 6 to 5 percent — but extend it to most commercial services. No, not education, business-to-business or medical expenses. But if I buy four new tires, I pay sales tax on them but not on the cost of installation. That doesn't make sense.

Not having raised the beer tax for half a century, even to adjust it for inflation, makes even less sense. Beer drinkers, those with good jobs and lives, should be asked to pay a little more to help bring Michigan back. That means me, by the way, and I hope you too.

Incidentally, I am never running for office, ever, in case anyone has any suspicions. I will cheerfully and enthusiastically support anyone who supports some reasonable program that combines shared sacrifice with trying for a better future. I love this state passionately, and intend to spend my life here. So let's fix it.

Unpleasant reality: Michigan is losing a seat in Congress with the next election, and since the Republicans control every branch of government, they get to determine the shape of the new districts. Odds are that they will throw Sander Levin and Gary Peters in the same Oakland-Macomb county district.

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