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  • 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, 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.

  • Long John Silver’s makes nod to Nancy Whiskey in YouTube commercial

    We don’t know about you, but usually Nancy Whiskey and Long John Silver’s aren’t two concepts we’d place in the same sentence. However, the international fast food fish fry conglomerate made a nod to the Detroit dive in their latest YouTube commercial. LJS is offering free fish fries on Saturday, August 2, which is the promotion the commercial is attempting to deliver. But, we think we’ll just go to Nancy Whiskey instead.

    The post Long John Silver’s makes nod to Nancy Whiskey in YouTube commercial appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Michigan’s women-only music fest still shuns trans women

    We came across an interesting item this week: Apparently, a music festival with the name “Michfest” is quietly oriented as a “Women-Only Festival Exclusively for ‘Women Born Women.’” It seems a strange decision to us. If you wanted to have a women-only music festival, why not simply proclaim loud and clear that it is for all sorts of women? But if you really wanted to become a lightning rod for criticisms about transphobia, organizers have found the perfect way to present their festival. Now, we know that defenders of non-cisgender folks have it tough. The strides made by gays and lesbians (and bisexuals) in the last 20 years have been decisive and dramatic. But the people who put the ‘T’ in LGBT have reason to be especially defensive, facing a hostile culture and even some disdain from people who should be their natural allies. That said, sometimes that defensiveness can cause some activists to go overboard; when we interviewed Dan Savage a couple years ago, he recalled his “glitter bombing” and said it was due to the “the narcissism of small differences,” adding that “if you’re playing the game of who is the most victimized, attacking your real enemies doesn’t prove you’re most victimized, claiming you […]

    The post Michigan’s women-only music fest still shuns trans women 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

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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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