Most Read
  • Lily Tomlin coming to Ann Arbor

    Detroit home-girl Lily Tomlin will perform at the Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor on Saturday, June 14. A press release reads, “Get together with Lily Tomlin for an unforgettable night of fun and sidesplitting laughter. “Tomlin is amazing” The NY Times and “as always a revelation.” The New Yorker This unique comic artist takes her audience on what the Washington Post calls a “wise and howlingly funny” trip with more than a dozen of her timeless characters—from Ernestine to Mrs. Beasley to Edith Ann.” “With astounding skill and energy, Tomlin zaps through the channels like a human remote control. Using a fantastic range of voices, gestures and movements, she conjures up the cast of characters with all the apparent ease of a magician pulling a whole menagerie of animals from a single hat.” NY Daily News “Her gentle touch is as comforting as it is edifying.” NY Time Out She has “made the one-person show the daring, irreverent art form it is today.” Newsweek Her long list of awards includes: a Grammy; two Tonys; six Emmys; an Oscar nomination; two Peabodys; and the prestigious Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Find more info here. Follow @City_Slang

    The post Lily Tomlin coming to Ann Arbor appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Welcome Valerie Vande Panne, the new Detroit Metro Times editor

    The Detroit Metro Times, Detroit’s award-winning alternative weekly media company, is proud to announce the recent hire of Valerie Vande Panne as Editor-in-Chief. An award-winning independent journalist and Michigan native, Vande Panne’s work has appeared in Crain’s Detroit Business, The Daily Beast, and Salon, among other publications. Previously, Vande Panne attended Harvard University and was a regular contributor to The Boston Phoenix, and a news editor of High Times magazine. She has spent years covering drug policy among other subjects, including the environment, culture, lifestyle, extreme sports, and academia. “Valerie understands our business and what we expect to accomplish in Detroit. She has an excellent sense for stories that will move our readers, as well as experience with balancing print and digital content. I’m excited to have her at the paper and trust her leadership as we move forward,” said Detroit Metro Times publisher Chris Keating.

    The post Welcome Valerie Vande Panne, the new Detroit Metro Times editor appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Joumana Kayrouz to cover ‘Metro Times’

    She welcomes you when you enter Detroit, from every direction, with the one word that might just be Detroit’s biggest philosophical question: Injured? Joumana Kayrouz is deeper than the inflated image watching over Detroit, peddling justice to the poor and broken of the city. This Wednesday, Drew Philp takes us behind the billboard and into the heart of the Kayrouz quest. (And all of Brian Rozman’s photos of Kayrouz have not been retouched.) Check out MT‘s cover story, on newsstands Wednesday!

    The post Joumana Kayrouz to cover ‘Metro Times’ appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Fire at PJ’s Lager House, no people hurt

    There was a fire in an upstairs apartment at PJ’s Lager House on Monday evening. No people were hurt, although three cats belonging to the tenants died after CPR. The fire broke out around 10:30 p.m. during a show featuring Zombie Jesus & the Chocolate Sunshine Band, Curtin, and Jeffrey Jablonsky. “We just smelled smoke and someone yelled everyone has to get out,” 33-year-old Nick Leu told MLive. On the Lager House Facebook page in the early hours of the morning, a post said, “We at PJ’s lager House would like to thank everyone for their care and concern. Also, a very big THANK YOU to all who stepped up to do what they could this evening. The fire was contained to the upstairs but due to water damage in the bar, we will be closed until it can be assessed. Everyone is safe and we will keep you updated.” A later update read, “Update from the big boss. Since there was no damage to the stage side of the bar, the show will go on tomorrow! You may have to enter through the back door and there may not be a large selection of booze but we are going […]

    The post Fire at PJ’s Lager House, no people hurt 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 The Sugar Clouds’ Partners Don’t Do That (They Watch and be Amazed) (Wax Splat) is a nostalgic look at the psychedelic days of ’60s grooviness. Even the album cover looks like a lava lamp. The male-female vocals have a sort of Jefferson Airplane feel, and the songs are blessed with both sugary sweet pop melodies and a garage-y earthiness. The story of the band’s formation is rather interesting; the two vocalists, Greg and Melissa Host, are a divorced couple who wrote the songs in their living room. The band is still together, so this divorce was a hell of a lot more civil than any we’ve ever known of. Steffanie Christi’an has friends in fairly high places. Her new Way Too Much mini-album is being put out by Nadir Omowale’s Distorted Soul label, and she is also a regular feature on Jessica Care Moore’s Black Women Rock revue. Maybe the choice of cover image isn’t the best – she looks a bit like a Tina Turner tribute act here. But that can and should be […]

    The post City Slang: Music review roundup appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit councilman: Increased parking fines an ‘anti-growth strategy’

      There’s at least one city councilmember who’s less than pleased with Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s plan to increase all parking violation fines. Councilman Gabe Leland, whose district represents the city’s west side, issued a statement today, calling Orr’s plan a potential “deterrent” to attracting people to the city. I don’t believe the argument to raise the parking ticket fines from $30 to $45 and eliminate the $10 early payment fine are justification for this action. The emergency manager’s order to increase ticket fines places city government inefficiencies on the backs of our residents who need to do business in downtown and other parts of our city. And, this will increase the barrier for people to frequent Detroit-based establishments; likely to be a deterrent for some to shop and dine in our city. Leland suggested implementing a plan that maintains current rates for fines and reduces operating inefficiencies to collecting parking fines. “In my view, generating revenue by increasing fines when residents from neighborhoods must go downtown to get licenses and permits, attend court appointments and do other necessary business, is the wrong direction,” Leland said. “…Additionally, generating revenue using fines when we are trying to grow this city and attract […]

    The post Detroit councilman: Increased parking fines an ‘anti-growth strategy’ appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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Politics & Prejudices

The Gipper giveth, state GOP taketh away

Republicans find a tax break they don't like. It happens to help the poor.

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

Once upon a time, there was a president of the United States who enthusiastically supported giving the working poor a break on their income taxes. The program, called the Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC, "is the best anti-poverty, the best pro-family program ever to come out of Congress." He vastly increased it.

Soon, seeing how well it worked, a number of states, including Michigan, did the same. In our state's case, the most a family with three kids could make last year to get the credit was $49,077.

This money — totaling $344 million in 2009 — was not parked in banks in the Cayman Islands, Mitt Romney-style. Instead, pretty much all of it was immediately spent in the local economy.

Then last year, Gov. Rick Snyder took office and right-wing Tea Party types took over both houses of the Michigan Legislature. They very nearly eliminated the entire Earned Income Tax Credit.

Fortunately, slightly saner heads prevailed, and a severely cut-back program survived. Now, instead of getting to deduct 20 percent of their state taxes, those eligible can deduct only 6 percent.

Michigan already had a regressive tax system. Lower-income people pay a higher percentage of their income than the rich, which makes sense only if you think government is supposed to punish them for being poor. This makes things worse.

According to the nonpartisan, nonprofit Michigan League for Human Services, cutting the EITC means a tax increase for the working poor of almost a quarter of a billion dollars, when you consider that their tax cut now falls to a mere $109 million.

Apart from simple unfairness, there is actually a precise technical term for the decision to cut the EITC: damned stupid.

For one thing, this hurts small business almost as much as it does the working poor. The Anderson Economic Group, no bastion of liberal propaganda, calculated that every dollar returned to the working poor has a "multiplier effect" generating $1.67 in economic activity when they spend it. Now, they don't have it to spend.

Gilda Jacobs, the president and CEO of the League for Human Services, says this will cost small businesses in poor tortured Detroit an estimated $22 million this year; another blow falling on a bruise.

Ironically, it may hurt poor rural regions upstate even more. "Many lawmakers don't realize the impact that the EITC has on [such] regions of our state, particularly in northern Michigan, which have high levels of poverty," Jacobs said. "Cutting the EITC may well put out of business some small businesses, such as independent grocers, small auto repair shops and second-hand stores that cater to low-income working families in rural communities," she added.

Among the districts heavily impacted, the league calculated, were those represented by GOP state senators John Proos of St. Joseph, Dave Hildenbrand of Lowell, Mike Nofs of Battle Creek, and Roger Kahn of Saginaw Township.

There is, however, no sign they give much of a damn. Most Democrats themselves haven't done nearly enough to defend the interests of working families. One exception: state Rep. Phil Cavanagh of Redford Township. Three months ago, he introduced a bill to fully restore the EITC tax credits. He, and it, have been ignored.

Republicans control all branches of government in Lansing, and have no interest in even scheduling hearings on anything that conflicts with their agenda. Never mind if, as in this case, it might be something that would help the state, or their fellow Republicans.

Never mind that the Earned Income Tax Credit has been proven to work both in theory and practice — it gives people a tax cut, which is to Republicans what the finest heroin is to a drug addict.

The EITC helps the economy; helps business. But today's Republicans evidently hate the poor so much they are willing to inflict widespread damage in an attempt to punish the needy. 

By the way, speaking of out-of-touch liberals: So who was the president quoted at the start of this column?

Lyndon B. Johnson? Franklin D. Roosevelt? Bill Clinton?

Not exactly. It was the GOP's patron saint, Ronald Reagan.


Whatever happened to ... Hansen Clarke's campaign for Congress? Two years ago, the charismatic-if-mercurial state senator from Detroit did what nobody else had been able to do: He defeated former U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks-Kilpatrick in the Democratic primary. Then, he went on to win a crushing victory over his Republican opponent.

This year, Michigan lost a seat in Congress. So the Legislature responded by throwing several Democratic incumbents together, to make sure at least one gets eliminated. Sure enough, Clarke and Gary Peters ended up battling it out in the new gerrymandered 14th district, which stretches from the Grosse Pointes to Keego Harbor, by way of Farmington Hills, Southfield, Pontiac, West Bloomfield, southwest Detroit and other places. This race should have been a real toss-up.

Slightly more than half the eligible voters are black; slightly more than half live in the suburbs. Most thought it would come down to whether black voters would turn out in adequate numbers, and whether Hansen Clarke's charm could win over suburbanites. Yet, more than two months before the Aug. 7 election, there is a clear feeling in many places that Peters has it wrapped up.

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