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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's shortfalls

Why society's leaders think Snyder is the best they've got to work with

It's official: Rick Snyder is the establishment's choice for governor of Michigan. The Detroit Free Press, which usually endorses Democrats (if they don't threaten that paper's economic interests) made it unanimous last weekend.

After listing where they disagree with Snyder, the newspaper adds: "The most important choice Michiganders face has less to do with policy preferences than it does with the need for leadership and independence in Lansing.

"We're confident Snyder will bring both."

If the Free Press editorial board really is confident he can get the job done, they're idiots. This is, they must know, a crapshoot at best. Nobody has any idea whether this somewhat aloof, self-described nerd will work and play well with others. We know he has no experience at politics or government, know he has never strong-armed or sweet-talked any bill through any legislative body, know that he is a wooden speaker who did his best to duck debates.

He only won his party's nomination because his more-right-wing opponents carved each other up, and because disillusioned independents and Democrats voted for him in the belief that a Republican was almost certainly going to win, and that Snyder seemed better than Mike Cox, Pete Hoekstra or the now-oafish Mike Bouchard. Even with that, the winner got barely 37 percent of the vote in a tiny turnout.

However, those who consider themselves society's leaders think he's the best they've got to work with. (The ones in Detroit thought the same of Kwame Kilpatrick in 2005. Freman Hendrix, a man comfortable with union locals and small business owners, made them uneasy.)

By the way, if you think this is a Virg Bernero commercial, it isn't. Voting for Rick Snyder may not be the wrong choice. I was originally appalled by the notion of a Bernero candidacy. He has taken money from Matty Moroun, opposes the proposed internationally owned new bridge, and appears not to understand the issues at stake or who Moroun is.

He runs for every office in sight, usually as soon as he gets elected to a different one. Too much of the Democrat's campaign has been based on improper and demagogic issues: Bashing China, for example, and claiming Snyder wants to send all our jobs there. He's also tried to portray his opponent as some kind of anti-abortion fanatic who would gravely endanger the reproductive rights of women in Michigan. There's no evidence of that whatsoever.

When one listens to Bernero, one sometimes thinks he believes that with a little tweaking of NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, all our high school graduates again will be able to get good jobs at Oldsmobile.

However, I have developed a grudging respect for the cheerfully angry mayor's never-say-die style of campaigning. He's brought up a few ideas worth thinking about, such as a state bank to make small loans to businesses. He's done his best to carry the battle to his immensely rich opponent, with little money or support, and little media pressure on Snyder to give us the debates we deserve.

Bernero is also energetic, damn it, and really seems to care. Yet his chances are abysmal. Any Democrat's would be this year. That's partly because eight years ago, the Free Press and virtually every other media outlet in this state fought to see who could do the most to kiss up to a Democrat named Jennifer Granholm, then running for governor. She was beautiful, we were told. Brainy! Accomplished! Went to Harvard! She was on The Dating Game! The Free Press endorsed her with even more glowing praise than they gave Snyder. Granholm was going to revolutionize government in Michigan.

Besides, she was the first woman running for governor who had a serious chance, and it was about time. They wanted so strongly to believe.

Yet you only needed to talk to the pre-gubernatorial Granholm for an hour to see the danger signs: She didn't have a clue how to get a bill through the Legislature, or build the coalitions she needed. But the various establishments decided she was their choice.

That 2002 campaign was an embarrassment of riches, compared to now. Republicans, who nominated the conservative Dick Posthumus, could have chosen Joe Schwarz, for years the most capable, decent man in state government. Democrats also had the choice of Congressman Dave Bonior, then House Minority Whip, a skilled lawmaker who had also been in the Legislature, and Jim Blanchard, who had been governor for two terms and knew how Lansing worked.

But that meant nothing, because not only did we have a chance to elect our first-ever woman governor, she was mesmerizing to a world that hadn't heard of Lady Gaga yet. A Freep columnist suggested the U.S. Constitution be changed so our Canadian-born superwoman could run for president. Unfortunately, Lady Charisma proved unable and unwilling to make hard choices or tough decisions. Midway through her last term, even fellow Democrats in the Legislature sometimes treated her with thinly veiled contempt.

Other times, they didn't bother with the veil. Now, the powers that be are excited that we are about to elect a brilliant and rich self-described nerd, even though we haven't a clue how he will close next year's enormous budget deficit.

All we know is that the stimulus money is gone, and Snyder's proposal to abolish the Michigan Business Tax would make the deficit worse, at least in the short run.

We also know that unemployment benefits will completely run out by the end of November for 142,733 workers, who have been jobless for nearly two years. Money will be cut off to 324,000 by next spring, with no relief in sight.

What I think is that Campbell's Soup is on sale, and we all oughta get several cases to stack in the basement. Lasts for years, y'know.


Not trusting the people:
Earlier this week, I moderated a panel that included three politicians I generally admire: former state Rep. David Gubow, now a district judge in Oak Park; state Sen. Gilda Jacobs; and state Rep. Ellen Cogen Lipton. All are liberal Oakland County Democrats, and all agreed that our state government doesn't work very well.

They also agreed that there are built-in, structural flaws in our present system. As I've noted here before, on Nov. 2, the voters are going to be asked if they want to call a convention to consider writing a new constitution.

After the panelists had talked about how things weren't working, one audience member asked each member if they would support a constitutional convention. They all said no. For one simple reason: They don't trust the people.

They didn't say it in those words, but that's what they meant. Gubow talked about the "present climate not being right." Lipton said she had worked hard to make stem cell research legal, and feared right-wing crazies would write a constitution that outlawed it again.

Those may be legitimate fears, but what kind of democracy can you have if you fundamentally don't trust the people? If we aren't willing to gamble that we can figure out a better way to govern ourselves, we might as well petition Queen Elizabeth and ask her to take us back as colonies.

My guess, however, is that she's too smart for that.

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