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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

Want to stop the emergency manager?

Step up with the ideas to make things happen — or get out of the way

Photo: gophouse.com, License: N/A

gophouse.com


Yes, you read that right.

Last week hundreds of people marched in Ann Arbor to protest the emergency manager law — and the man behind it, Gov. Rick Snyder. They got as close as they could to the governor's home in a ritzy gated community. They chanted "We are the People's Army," and "This is what Democracy looks like," and similar things. 

They had every right to do that. The governor himself said so. But frankly, they didn't accomplish anything.

Nor did they say what the state should do instead of eventually appointing an emergency manager to run Detroit.

Nor have any other of the law's many critics come up with any alternative strategy that makes any rational sense. "Giving the elected leaders a chance to fix it," just doesn't cut it. They've had years and years to do so, and none of them are offering any plan now.

Nor do they have a clue how to address the long-term problems, which include $12 billion in unfunded liabilities.

Sure, the state could come up with money to help Detroit close its current budget deficit, as long as Detroit fires enough workers and further weakens essential services, including police and fire.

But what about the next crisis a few months from now? What about the billions and billions in pension and other liabilities for which no money is set aside? How will the city ever be able to pay?

How will the remaining 700,000 mostly dirt-poor Detroiters get themselves out from under this mountain of debt, while maintaining some minimal standard of city services?

They can't. They never will, simple as that.

So here's a rational suggestion for how to fix Detroit's problems, and give Motown a decent long-term chance to succeed. The state should take its lead from what Washington did to save General Motors and Chrysler. Detroit needs to be taken over, restructured, helped through a "soft landing" that is likely going to include bankruptcy.

And last, but not least, Detroit needs to be guided through a merger — an arranged marriage if you will — to help keep her stable.

That's what the government did for Chrysler, marrying it off to Fiat, and because of that the all-but-dead automaker is alive and prosperous and growing stronger by the day.

This analogy isn't perfect, but there's a lot that applies. Here's what should now happen to Detroit: Nobody doubts that when the financial review team finishes its work, probably around the end of next month, it will confirm that things are a total mess.

The team could then recommend either that the city seek a consent agreement, under which Mayor Dave Bing and the council would take on new powers to fix the city's finances.

Or it could recommend the appointment of an emergency manager. The governor says that he hopes this could be done with a consent agreement. Normally, I would agree. But not this time.

The problems are just too mammoth and overwhelming. They are results, to some extent, of the city being stiffed by the suburbs and the state and the generations who used the city and abandoned it.

But they are also the result of years and years of criminal behavior and utter irresponsibility on the part of the politicians who ran Detroit, borrowed billions that they expected future generations to pay, and just kept kicking an ever-growing can down the road.

Fred Leeb, a turnabout expert who was briefly the emergency manager in Pontiac, says Detroit has "hit the wall."

Detroit's "leaders must make drastic cuts in costs now, yes, but they must also develop and implement new far-reaching but practical strategies," he said. Borrowing more money is not the answer, he says,  adding that "every day that goes by without this positive process working at full speed is a day that speeds up the downward spiral for the city of Detroit." And without a healthy city, Michigan is never going to be able to attract new investment and business either.

So here's my solution:

Following the financial review team's report, the governor should move to appoint an emergency manager as soon as possible

The emergency manager then needs, as a first step, to figure out Detroit's true financial state as soon as possible, stabilize things — and then present a plan to return to solvency with an eye toward growth.

The best way to do that may well be a so-called "soft bankruptcy." The state helps guide Detroit through this as easily as possible — maybe by separating everything into two municipal corporations — "Good Detroit" and "Bad Detroit."

We help the good stuff get stronger and in a position to survive. The bad stuff is sold off, closed out, liquidated, disposed of.

Detroit starts fresh and clean. Yes, the creditors take a haircut, and Michigan's credit rating will be hurt for a while. This is strong medicine, but in the not-so-long run, everything should be better off.

But now for the final chapter: Gov. Snyder should then ask the Legislature to take the city and combine it with the county.

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