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  • 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.

  • City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday

    This Saturday, April 19, is Record Store Day, and there is plenty going on in metro Detroit and Michigan. Of special interest to us is Chiodos’ 7” single “R2ME2/Let Me Get You A Towel,” Mayer Hawthorne & Shintaro Skamoto’s 7” “Wine Glass Woman/In a Phantom,” Chuck Inglish & Action Bronson’s 7” “Game Time,” Chuck Inglish & Chance the Rapper’s 7” “Glam,” Chuck Inglish & Chromeo’s 7” “Legs,” Chuck Inglish, Mac Miller & Ab-Soul’s 7” “Easily,” James Williamson’s 7” “Open Up and Bleed/Gimme Some Skin,” Black Milk’s 12” “Glitches in the Break,” Mayer Hawthorne’s 10” “Jaded Inc.,” Wayne Kramer & the Lexington Arts Ensemble’s 12” “Lexington,” and best of all, Ray Parker Jr.’s 10” “Ghostbusters.” We wrote about James Williamson’s release this week. Go shop. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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Politics & Prejudices

The Snyder budget

Governor unveils tough calls, but they must be made

"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it, good and hard." —H.L. Mencken

"Everybody likes change until it affects them." —Gov. Rick Snyder

Our new governor presented his new budget to the Legislature last week, and it really was a bombshell.

Bye-bye, film industry tax credits! Bye-bye, Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC) for the poor!

Private pensions will be taxed! Public pensions will be taxed! Prison spending will be slashed! Money for higher education will be cut! Money for elementary and high school education will be cut! Revenue sharing will be cut by a third!

But business taxes will be lowered dramatically.

The howling began immediately, some of it less dignified than the rest. Starting at the bottom, Mitch Albom, who wants more of his cloying books made into movies, emitted a protracted whine about the film credits in the Sunday Gannett paper. "As a person who helped create the film credits program, I asked for months to meet with Snyder," he huffed.

The governor, evidently not knowing that Mitch was a Very Important Person, kept him waiting until two weeks ago, the churl. When the governor didn't do what Mitch wanted, Albom wrote that he felt like he'd "been punched in the stomach." No five friends in heaven waiting for Rick Snyder, no siree!

Granted, there were a lot of more serious objections to the governor's proposals. There are actually legitimate arguments that cutting back the film credits is the wrong thing to do. More importantly, there are deep concerns about what these budget cuts mean to the poor and our children.

Gilda Jacobs, who now heads the Michigan League for Human Services, was appalled at the specter of another 14,000 kids being driven into poverty. Others were stunned by the proposed $470 per pupil cut; one wonders how many more districts this will tip over into either emergency financial manager-hood or bankruptcy.

The revenue sharing cuts will hurt cities too, but actually came as a relief to some city officials I talked with; many of them feared it might be zeroed out entirely.

Labor complained too, of course, but the biggest caterwauling of all came from seniors who objected to the idea of having to pay tax on the money they collect from their pensions, some of which are quite generous.

"Class and generation warfare at their highest!" bellowed one Tom Diamondale, who in e-mails referred to the governor as "Slicky Slider," which, as nicknames go, is sort of cute.

State Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, who heads the tiny caucus of Democrats in that body, complained that there was no shared sacrifice.

Yes, just about everybody hated this budget, except big business interests and the Chamber of Commerce. But curiously, I had a hard time working up much sympathy for the critics, for one largely overlooked reason:

They offered no alternatives.

All last week, I kept waiting for the Democrats to release a proposed alternative budget. Then I waited for some group to do so. But no one offered anything, except more whining.

Sorry, but the facts are these: Michigan has a huge budget deficit and the books have to be balanced. Right now.

We also have a broken economy and tax structure, which is partly still the legacy of our automotive past and partly due to our failed term-limits system, and the even more dysfunctional politicians we've been electing, one in particular: Jennifer Granholm.

Make no mistake about it. If you are a liberal, if you are a Democrat, if you care about children and education, you have her to thank for this. She knew this day was coming.

Everybody in Lansing who knew about state finances knew it was coming. We were going to run out of money and crash and burn, unless we changed our ways.

When the Democrats were running things, they weren't even willing to try. After her triumphant re-election in 2006, I urged the governor (through a meeting with her husband) to be bold. Go on television, explain everything to everybody.

Talk, I suggested, about shared sacrifice and the need to bite the bullet and address the real problems of this state. Use your landslide victory and superb communication skills.

Had she done that, she might or might not have succeeded. Mike Bishop, that dark pool of negativity, did not have the clout or confidence he would later attain.

There's a good chance she could have defined the debate, perhaps won a small increase in the state income tax or sensibly pushed to extend the sales tax on services.

Possibly she could have even started a major move to restructure state government. But she didn't have the guts to try. The moral bankruptcy of this state's political culture reached rock bottom in 2007. That's when the slimy politicians sold off $900 million in future tobacco settlement revenues in exchange for $400 million right away.

They did that in order to avoid hard, necessary decisions. They should all have been impeached. Shortly thereafter, they came up with the now-hated Michigan Business Tax to replace the older, Single Business Tax. What people now forget was that when it was first approved, the MBT was an improvement on what came before. But then, at the last minute, the parties slapped a 22 percent surcharge on the new tax, effectively driving business away.

After that, anybody with two brain cells to rub together knew the coming crash of state government finances was only a matter of time, and not much time. Actually, it would have happened on Granholm's watch, except for one thing: President Obama's stimulus program, which sent billions to this state.

There were probably some starry-eyed idealists who thought the money might be used for job creation or to invest in new and better infrastructure, etc. But our politicians just threw it in the deficit hole. Now, it's all gone, and there won't be any more. Hence the Snyder revolution. Nobody, by the way, should be mad at the governor.

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