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  • Jumpin Jumpin: Police, fire fighters, and EMS workers to be honored at Sky Zone

    When we think of honoring the brave men and women who protect and serve the metro Detroit area, we think of trampolines.  We think they should jump on trampolines. And by trampolines, we mean an all-walled trampoline field where they can land in a pit of 10,000 foam cubes. They have to blow off steam some how. Sky Zone, the inventors of such a place, are hosting a special day at their Canton and Shelby Township locations that will be all about police officers, firefighters, EMS workers, and their families. On Tuesday, August 5 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. there will be free jumping for these folks. All metro Detroit police, firefighters, EMS workers and their families are invited to come, though an employee ID or professional organization ID will be required for admittance to 60 free minutes at the indoor park. The hour of free jumping comes with free pizza from Jet’s as well. This is the first event of its kind in Michigan.  Sky Zone Canton is located at 42550 Executive Drive Sky Zone Shelby Township is located at 50810 Sabrina Drive. Check skyzone.com for more information. 

    The post Jumpin Jumpin: Police, fire fighters, and EMS workers to be honored at Sky Zone appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Metro Times is getting a new website today

    Your favorite local alternative weekly is getting a digital facelift at around 4 p.m. today, and we need your help. If you, dear reader, spot anything amiss or notice that any of our regular features are not working properly, do give us a shout in the comment section below or on social media. If, on the other hand, you find that you positively adore our new design (which we surely hope you do!), we’d certainly enjoy hearing about that as well. Let the countdown to launch begin!

    The post Metro Times is getting a new website today appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit group Feral Ground is out to prove hip-hop is alive and well

    By LeeAnn Brown Some people say that hip-hop is dead. Local ban Fderal Ground is proving that is not the case. The seven-member band, consisting of three lead vocalists, a DJ, bass, drums and guitar, plays what they call “living hip-hop.” Their music, peppered with multiple styles, covers all aspects of life from growing up in the D to playing with fire despite knowing you will likely get burned. Their undeniable chemistry and raw lyrics compose a music that is living, breathing, and connecting to their listeners. It has been nearly 11 years since Vinny Mendez and Michael Powers conjured up the basement idea that has flowered into the Detroit funk-hop band Feral Ground. Throughout high school the two wrote and rapped consistently, playing shows here and there. In those years they matched their rap stanzas with the animated, dynamic voice of Ginger Nastase and saw an instant connection. The now trio backed their lyrics with DJ Aldo’s beats on and off for years, making him a permanent member within the last year, along with Andy DaFunk (bass), Joseph Waldecker (drums), and newest member, Craig Ericson (guitar). We sat down with Feral Ground and their manager, Miguel Mira, in their […]

    The post Detroit group Feral Ground is out to prove hip-hop is alive and well appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Yale professor talks Plato, James Madison and Detroit’s emergency manager law

    Much has been made about Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s decision this week to transfer authority of the city’s water department to Mayor Mike Duggan. In what is the most interesting read on the situation, Jason Stanley, professor of philosophy at Yale, pens an analysis on Michigan’s novel emergency manager law on the New York Times Opinionator blog. Stanley deconstructs Michigan’s grand experiment in governance by addressing two questions: Has the EM law resulted in policy that maximally serves the public good? And, is the law consistent with basic principles of democracy? Stanley ties in examples of Plato, James Madison’s Federalist Papers, and Nazi political theorist Carl Schmitt. A short excerpt: Plato was a harsh critic of democracy, a position that derived from the fact that his chief value for a society was social efficiency. In Plato’s view, most people are not capable of employing their autonomy to make the right choices, that is, choices that maximize overall efficiency. Michigan is following Plato’s recommendation to handle the problems raised by elections. Though there are many different senses of “liberty” and “autonomy,” none mean the same thing as “efficiency.” Singapore is a state that values efficiency above all. But by no stretch of […]

    The post Yale professor talks Plato, James Madison and Detroit’s emergency manager law appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Where to meet a baby dinosaur this week

    Walking with Dinosaurs, a magnificent stage show that features life-sized animatronic creatures from the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods, will be in town next week. But to preview the show’s run at the Palace, a baby T-Rex will be making an appearance at four area malls to the delight and wonderment of shoppers. Baby T-Rex, as the creature is being affectionately referred to, is seven-feet-tall and 14-feet-long. He’ll only be at each mall for about 15 minutes, so while there will be photo opportunities, they’ll be short. The dino will be at Fairlane Town Center Center Court at 18900 Michigan Ave. in Detroit from 2-2:15 p.m. today, July 30; The Mall at Partridge Creek at 17420 Hall Rd. in Clinton Township from 5-5:15 p.m. today, July 30; Twelve Oaks Mall at the Lord & Taylor Court at 27500 Novi Rd., Novi tomorrow, Thursday July 31 from 1:30-1:45 p.m.; and Great Lakes Crossing Food Court at 4000 Baldwin Rd., Auburn Hills from 5-5:15 p.m., tomorrow Thursday, July 31.  

    The post Where to meet a baby dinosaur this week appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit website offers stats, updates on city operations

    Interested in reading about what Detroit accomplishes on a week-to-week basis that’s produced by the city itself? Great. You can do that now, here, at the Detroit Dashboard. Every Thursday morning, the city will publish an update to the dashboard because Mayor Mike Duggan loves metrics, even if the data might be hard to come by. According to Duggan’s office, the dashboard will provide data on how many LED street lights were installed, how many vacant lots were mowed, how much blight was removed, and more. This week, the city says it has sold 13 site lots through BuildingDetroit.com, removed 570 tons of illegal dumping, and filed 57 lawsuits against abandoned property owners.  

    The post Detroit website offers stats, updates on city operations appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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Politics & Prejudices

The new reality

Now Michigan Republicans will have no excuses - and few checks

Let's start off by pointing out some new bad news for the Democrats most may not even know about yet.

One of their very few bright spots on election night was Congressman Gary Peters' narrow victory over "Rocky" Raczkowski. Peters, who represents much of Oakland County, easily beat a Republican fossil, Joe Knollenberg, two years ago, but almost lost this time to a candidate who was neither very strong nor well-funded.

What his supporters didn't realize election night is that their victory just postponed the inevitable. Michigan will lose a House seat next year, thanks to the shifting U.S. population. Lansing will redraw districts. Republicans will control the Legislature and the governor's office. Guess whose seat they'll eliminate?

They will almost certainly throw Peters into a district he has no chance of winning in the general election, or put him in the same district as fellow Democrat Sandy Levin, meaning one or the other will have to bow out, retire or lose.

Then the Legislature will draw boundaries to ensure the GOP captures as many seats in Lansing as possible over the next decade. They'll pass it; Republican Gov. Rick Snyder will sign it.

Now, if Democrats think that plan is unfair, why, they can always appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court. But ... oh wait! Republicans now have control of that too.

Welcome to our new political reality. Last week was a GOP victory at every level. Democrats lost the governor's race by a landslide, as everyone knew they would. But having said that, here's something positive about Virg Bernero: Yes, he got creamed. But he did better than the last two losing Democrats for governor, Geoffrey Fieger and Howard Wolpe. That's amazing, given they had more money and ran against John Engler, closer of mental health clinics, an uncharismatic man with negatives of his own.

This time, Rick Snyder was able to run as Our Non-Political Savior, with the entire media establishment and business community serving as his public relations apparatus. He was effectively able to be all things to all people. Bernero had little money, a not-very-focused campaign and had to stand against a huge Republican tide. Not to mention the legacy of Jennifer Granholm, who rightly or wrongly had become a symbol for everything wrong.

With all that going for him, you would have thought Snyder would have done better than the 61 and 62 percent scores Engler racked up against a respected former congressman and then Michigan's best-known and most flamboyant attorney. Yet Snyder only beat Bernero 58 to 40 percent. That's significant, for this reason: During those larger Engler landslides, Democrats weren't wiped out at lower levels the way they were last week. Back then, Democrats were elected attorney general both times. They won at least some state education board seats too, and did better in the Legislature. This time, they were wiped out. This wasn't an anti-Virg vote. It was a vote against the Democrats.

They lost every statewide office. Jocelyn Benson, who may have been the best-qualified candidate ever for secretary of state, ran far ahead of the rest of the ticket, but lost by six points. Republicans gained more seats in the Legislature than in their wildest dreams. In perhaps the most significant blow, they took back control of the Michigan Supreme Court.

What does this all mean? Nobody really knows, and we won't for some time. But we do know this: First of all, Republicans — if they are united — can now do anything they want to when it comes to running the government. Democrats won't control a damned thing. In fact, their minority in the state Senate will be so small — less than one-third of the seats — they won't even be able to prevent any bills the Republicans pass from taking immediate effect.

However, there is a silver lining in all this, for either the state of Michigan, the Democrats, or both: Republicans now, finally, have to take complete responsibility for the mess we are in.

They are going to have to balance a budget with perhaps a $2 billion deficit, and do it without stimulus money. They will either have to take the responsible step of raising revenues, or wipe out what remains of social services, badly damage higher education, and ruin our state's ability to compete. Either the state wins or the Republicans will have demonstrated themselves to be a bunch of ideological fanatics, interested in only in the rich and super-rich.

Don't be surprised if our new governor finds his hands full with a lot of newly elected Tea Party know-nothings in the Legislature. It could be that he will only be able to succeed with support from some Democrats, if the Teabaggers revolt against him.

This much is clear. The voters decisively gave power to the Republicans, in Michigan as nationwide. I happen to believe they did so because President Obama and the Democrats at all levels did a piss-poor job of explaining what they really did accomplish.

They enacted a health care plan the vast majority of Americans would enthusiastically favor — if they understood it. They saved us from a Great Depression. Locally, the president saved the auto industry, and saved our state from financial collapse. But they apparently thought virtue would bring its own reward. Instead, the constant televised lies and their own inability to communicate brought us a GOP landslide.

So now it is their turn. Democrats won fewer seats in the U.S. House of Representatives than they have in any election since 1946. But take note of two other things too: The last three times the GOP made major gains in Congress in midterm elections, the Democratic president at the time was easily re-elected two years later.

And consider the big Tea Party Republican stars, the ones who were constantly on the all-news TV channels: Christine O'Donnell. Carl Paladino. Joe Miller. Sharron Angle. Think of Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman, the rich women who were going to take over California.

Every one of them lost — badly. When people really saw what they were selling, they didn't want any of it. There might be a lesson there.


Could Comrade Mark be in trouble? The Detroit Free Press had an editorial last week urging the replacement of Mark Brewer, the longtime Democratic Party state chair. That found a lot of eager support from hardworking rank-and-file Democrats like one woman I spoke to who fought hard to get out the vote Tuesday.

She, like others, is upset that the Democrats under Brewer have squandered money on silly, doomed causes like the unconstitutional "Reform Michigan Now" amendment two years ago, and managed to make a mess of the presidential primary in 2008.

They are incensed that the party did very little for Jocelyn Benson, who really could have won with proper support, but instead threw money and energy (though they deny it) on a farcical attempt to add a phony Trojan horse Tea Party to the ballot.

So does this mean Brewer will finally leave when his term expires early next year? Probably not, I'm told. He is the unions' apparatchik, and they control much of the process.

And drifting sadly downward things go.

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