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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

Those ballot props

Jack's take on the six big questions

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The Morouns have spent nearly $5 million to help keep the Ambassador Bridge a monopoly.


Here's what would happen if every voter went to the polls next month, got in the booth and earnestly studied the ballot proposals.

People would be still standing in line on Thanksgiving Day. One measure of the screwed-up insanity of politics in Michigan is that we've slapped six complex proposals on the November ballot, plus boatloads of candidates running in who-knows-how-many races.

Yet despite that, we don't allow voters to automatically take the ballot home, study it, and return it by mail. In Oregon, everybody votes by mail. Even in Ohio, where Cedar Point is the height of high culture, the state mails every voter an absentee ballot application.

However, in Michigan, you aren't supposed to vote absentee unless you are going to be out of town, are in jail, are over 60, working the polls that day, or pretending it's a religious holiday. (Actually, Election Day really should be democracy's highest holiday.)

But if we made it easier to vote, too many of the riff-raff might show up, as the Republicans like to mutter. So most of us are going to have to trudge off to the polls, and face all these things.

Personally, I have no opinion to share as to whether you should vote for President Obama, who saved the domestic auto industry, killed Osama bin Laden, and saved the country from falling into economic collapse, or for Mitt Romney, who would end any hope of universal health care and allow large corporations and billionaires to finish making serfs of us all. That's a hard decision.

But I have studied these ballot proposals at great length, and seriously now, folks, want to share my thinking with you. After all, you really don't want to be stuck in line when you should be starting that Thanksgiving tofurky, good vegans that you may be.

 

Proposal 1: The Emergency Manager Law: VOTE YES. This is the only one that is not a constitutional amendment, but a simple referendum on a law, one newly elected Republican Gov. Rick Snyder got the Legislature to pass last year.

There was such outrage at this that opponents easily collected enough signatures to put it on the ballot, suspending the law until after a vote. Most liberals and progressives are opposed to the emergency manager law, saying it takes away too much local power.

But I disagree. I think the EM law is, sadly, a necessary tool for cities whose deeply flawed governments have proven themselves unwilling or unable to make the tough decisions needed.

Case in point: Detroit. Forget the current budget deficit; the city has $12 billion in unfunded liabilities, and an incompetent council elected in a deeply flawed process. Their unwillingness to allow the state to save Belle Isle is just the latest evidence.

Detroit's only hope lies in drastic measures, and there are plenty of other cities in similar straits. Emergency managers should never be appointed lightly. But cities are a creation of the state. This is a tool that, in extreme circumstances, the state needs.

 

Proposal 2: Collective Bargaining: VOTE YES. This would simply "grant public and private employees the constitutional right to organize and bargain collectively through labor unions."

The state's unions are gambling heavily on this proposal, which would head off any attempt at right-to-work laws. They will spend heavily to try to get voters to approve it; you can expect business interests to spend even more to defeat it.

Much of the right wing's outrage will be directed against the fact that the amendment would protect public sector unions. However, the proposal does say "laws may be enacted to prevent public employees from striking," which ought to dispel any nonsense about our governments being held hostage by radical unions.

 

Proposal 3: The Renewable Energy Standard. VOTE YES. This is the "25 by 25" proposal to require electric utilities to provide at least a quarter of all their annual retail sales of electricity from renewable sources — wind, solar, biomass and hydropower.

The utilities are screaming that this is impossible, that it will lead to energy shortages and/or massively spiraling costs, etc., etc. They sound, in other words, like the auto companies did when it was first proposed they should be required to make cars that got more than eight miles to the gallon. Now, it is true that unforeseen things can happen. It is also true that you can't legislate progress.

But reputable environmentalists agree that this is achievable. Plus, the utilities don't want to admit this, but there is an escape clause. Not only would they be allowed to charge 1 percent a year in rate increases to achieve the standard, the law would allow them to put off the deadline if necessary to avoid higher rate increases.

It isn't clear who would decide if that was necessary — possibly, the state. Setting a renewable energy standard is also something that ought to have been addressed as a simple law, rather than as part of our constitution. But environmentally speaking, it is worth a yes.

 

Proposal 4: This would amend the constitution to establish a registry for home health care workers (The Michigan Quality Home Care Council) and to allow them to bargain collectively. VOTE NO. Constitutions are supposed to be basic guiding documents, not junked up with trivia. If Proposal 2 passes, these folks will have the right to bargain collectively anyway. I have no problem with them having a registry. But it shouldn't be mandated by the constitution.

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