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  • 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.

  • 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.



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Politics & Prejudices

The GOP’s toxic agenda

… and the ‘moderate’ governor who won’t stand up to it

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For months, while many of us have been understandably obsessed with Detroit, something else has been going on in Lansing, mostly overlooked by the press and people alike.

A development, that is, with far-reaching and potentially ominous consequences for everyone in this state: the imposition of a fanatical right-wing agenda by the ideologues now in control of the Michigan Legislature. They are passing legislation meant to hurt science and cripple education. They couldn't care less about academic freedom, and they regard public employees as worthless scum who deserve neither decent salaries, benefits nor the freedom to organize.

These legislators largely fear and distrust public education. They have no sympathy for the poor, and have been contemptuously saying no to even Gov. Rick Snyder's feeble attempts to help the downtrodden. What's terrible is that the governor, who was thought to be a moderate, is signing pretty much anything that ends up on his desk. Some of this should be tossed as unconstitutional.

That doesn't matter, however, because the disgracefully partisan GOP majority on the Michigan Supreme Court can be counted on to approve whatever their fellow Republicans want them to. Case in point: Democrats were in charge of local redistricting in Oakland County. Republicans didn't want to play fair.

So they rushed through a bill in Lansing changing the process so they could keep control. This was pretty clearly unconstitutional interference with local authority. The Supreme Court should have slapped the Legislature down. But the GOP majority slavishly voted to uphold what their party had done

Far worse is happening. More and more, the Republican legislators have made it clear they couldn't care less about fairness, the rules or the Michigan Constitution. For example: Under that constitution, any bill passed and signed by the governor doesn't take effect till 90 days after the end of the current legislative session. The Legislature can vote to give a bill immediate effect, but only if a two-thirds majority in each chamber votes to do so.

The Democrats still have more than a third of the House, and should be able to stop any bill from taking effect immediately.

But last month, the GOP majority decided to ignore that law, and ignored Democratic demands to hold a vote on immediate effect. This was in the case of the bill Republicans rushed through forbidding graduate students to unionize.

Democrats had to go to court to ask a circuit judge to tell the partisans to obey their own rules. The legislative Republicans are clearly an incredibly mean-spirited lot. The governor, to his credit, wanted to budget $5 million to put at-risk youth in crime-riddled cities to work for the Department of Natural Resources this summer, something like the famous Civilian Conservation Corps.

Sneering Republican lawmakers in both chambers contemptuously rejected that. Last week, they did the same to the governor's proposals to expand children's dental coverage.

And now they are expanding their right-wing agenda to the state universities, which are supposed to be autonomous.

The House Higher Education Committee voted to take $6.7 million away from Michigan State University unless the school drops its sensible policy of requiring every student to have health insurance, something good for both students and the school.

Additionally, to please the religious right, they voted to withhold $4.7 million from the University of Michigan unless it explains — in the manner the lawmakers want — what stem cell research it is conducting. Such research is fully legal now, by the way; four years ago, the citizens voted to legalize it in all forms.

But the religious nuts have never accepted that, and want to have a chilling effect on embryonic stem cell work. Ironically, Bob Genetski, the subcommittee chair, has a lot in common with some of the less responsible students at Michigan State: He has a problem with drinking and driving. Starting April 7, he will have to have someone drive him to Lansing, because a judge took his license away.

That's your leadership in action.

So what can we do about this? Make your voices heard, especially by the governor, who has to run for re-election in two years. There are three seats up on the Michigan Supreme Court; if Democrats win two, that will end the reign of the rubber-stamp court. But the fastest way to restore balance in Lansing would be for the Democrats to gain nine House seats in this November's election.

That won't be easy; the GOP majority has drawn new lines to give themselves maximum advantage. But they've tried that before and still lost control. The lower house has been volatile; the Repubs gained 20 seats two years ago, the Dems nine the time before that.

If ever there was a case where better checks and balances were badly needed, Michigan today is it. 

Tragedy and farce: For years, the government has required everyone riding in a car to wear seatbelts. They do this because it saves thousands of lives every year. What's even clearer is that it is essential that motorcycle riders wear helmets. Michigan has had a law for years requiring them to do so, and those who ride motorcycles have been screaming like spoiled toddlers ever since, demanding the right to splatter their brains on the highway.

Letting them ride without helmets makes no sense. The Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning forecasts that without the helmet law, there will be an average of an additional 30 deaths and 127 incapacitating injuries every year.

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