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    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

Too little, too timid

Mayor Bing punts on the ballyhooed Detroit Works program

Detroit today has too few people spread too thinly across too many square miles, and not enough money to take care of their needs.

Nobody disputes that much. The question is what can be done about it? There are now perhaps no more than 700,000 mainly poor, mainly poorly educated Detroiters rattling around in a city that once housed at least 1.9 million of them. City government is in tough shape. The long-term deficit, which had been declining, was $155 million at the start of this year, but is now likely to increase.

Thanks, that is, to state government's revenue-slashing policies. So how can the city possibly meet Detroiters' minimal needs?

There's no way they can get more money out of the residents, who already pay some of the highest tax rates in the state. Tax rates could (and should) be raised in the suburbs, if the politicians had the political will to do so. Detroiters don't have it to give.

To say they are poor is also beyond dispute. More importantly, they don't have any real prospect of being otherwise. Mayor Dave Bing's estimate of the real unemployment rate is somewhere around 45 percent. That's when you count the so-called "discouraged" workers, who have dropped out of the labor force because they don't see any point in looking for jobs that aren't there.

Many of these folks are also, in all likelihood, unemployable. Recent reliable estimates are that 47 percent of Detroit adults essentially cannot read. What can they possibly do to make a legal living, one in which they pay taxes in today's economy?

More than a year ago, officials in Mayor Bing's administration began talking about "shrinking" or "repurposing" the city, that is, trying to get the people who remain to move to fewer neighborhoods, under the theory that a smaller area would be easier to service.

That made some sense, though the idea also left me uneasy; it reminded me of a government invaded by the Nazis desperately trying to withdraw to a smaller, and more easily defensible perimeter.

What nobody ever talked about was what would happen to the essentially abandoned areas. Would they be fenced off and left to feral swine? Would they be taken over by roving armed gangs?

What would the city do about the one stubborn old lady on an abandoned block who refused to move? Legally, Detroit would have no power to move her, unless they used eminent domain to seize the land for a civic project. The answer, I was eventually told, was this:

The city wouldn't try to make anybody move. Instead, they would pour extra resources into a selection of better, more viable neighborhoods. This would be an added incentive for people to live there. Eventually, it was hoped this would have a snowball effect.

The mayor's program to get this done was called Detroit Works, and we were told it would eventually identify four to 10 stable neighborhoods, which would then get better resources.

We then waited for the neighborhoods to be identified ... and waited and waited. A week ago, we got the answer ...

And it couldn't have been more disappointing. 

At the last moment, our all-star basketball player mayor lost his nerve and failed to make the much-needed three-point shot. Instead, he dribbled the ball weakly down the court, hoping someone else would grab it.

Instead of identifying a bunch of neighborhoods, the mayor announced that his plan would focus on the entire city, a clear abdication of his responsibility to make hard decisions.

Hello, Mr. Mayor. The city doesn't have the money to take care of all its neighborhoods, which was the reason for the Detroit Works program in the first place. What he proposes is to focus on three areas — the Boston-Edison area near Midtown; Palmer Woods and nearby neighborhoods in the north; and a growing chunk of southwest Detroit.

Fine. But here's the existentialist kicker into absurdity. Detroit won't give them any extra resources other areas won't get. Instead, the entire city is supposed to get "enhanced" city services over the next six months. (If you are asking, "How in the hell can they do that? There is no money," you are guilty of being a rational adult.)

But stay with the mayor in Cloud Cuckoo Land for a moment. After six months of the wonderfully enhanced services, the city will study and analyze what worked well in the three targeted areas.

Then, they will apply what they learned elsewhere! Can't you just imagine the scenes at City Hall. "Hey, Mr. Mayor! People like it when they have streetlights and the fire trucks actually come when called! Who knew? They also are happier when there are enough cops so people can't take 5-year-old girls out of their homes, smother them and set them on fire! God, we learned a lot!"

Presumably, City Hall will then put what they learned into practice. (Except, again, that there is no money.) In fact, Bing even used Gov. Rick Snyder's favorite phrase, "best practices," to describe what he wanted to do. Snyder normally uses that phrase to mean "limit and take away benefits from workers in the public sector."

What Mayor Bing means by it isn't clear, unless it is shorthand for doing nothing at all. Dave Bing seems to have gotten cold feet. He knew that the demagogues and "Afrocentrists" on City Council would have screamed bloody murder at the thought of nicer neighborhoods getting special treatment. They'd rather we all went down together, until everyone who can walk and think has left.

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