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  • 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.

  • City Slang: Margaret Doll Rod to play EP release show in May

    Margaret Doll Rod will celebrate the release of her new EP, Margaret, with a show at PJ’s Lager House on Saturday, May 10. A statement reads, “The EP contains 3 new original songs and one Chrome Cranks cover with Italian actress Asia Argento singing background vocals. Margaret moved to Italy after the end of the Demolition Doll Rods where she still lives touring and performing festivals in Europe. The Dollrods were a Garage Rock force for over 20 years, opening for Iggy, Jon Spencer, The Scientist, The Monks and The Cramps. Margaret was the front person and principal songwriter for The Dollrods. Her chief musical foil was Danny Kroha, who joined the Demolition Doll Rods after the now legendary Gories called it quits. Margaret’s sister, Christine, on drums, rounded out the legendary trio. Margaret will do a special performance in the round that night with a 360 degree revolving stage and special guest DJ Adam Stanfel.” The bill will also feature the Stomp Rockets and the Volcanos. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Margaret Doll Rod to play EP release show in May appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Music review roundup

    Send CDs, vinyl, cassettes, demos and 8-tracks to Brett Callwood, Metro Times, 1200 Woodward Heights, Ferndale MI 48220. Email MP3s and streaming links to bcallwood@metrotimes.com. Ricky Rat’s Tokyo Pop/Glitter People (New Fortune) 7” single highlights all that’s great about the Trash Brats guitarist, but also his limitations. The man can write a bubblegum rock ’n’ roll song to match anyone in the city and most beyond. He’s also a killer guitarist, ripping out one throwaway riff after another with reckless abandon. He’s a machine. On his own though, without Trash Brats frontman Brian McCarty, his voice doesn’t have enough strength to do the songs justice. Not that you need to have the greatest voice in the world to sing this stuff – you don’t need to be able to perform vocal gymnastics – but you do have to be able to wail the tunes out. Both of the songs on this single are great, but you can’t help but wonder how much better they would sound with McCarty or somebody similar talking the mic. Still, as they are the songs are great fun. We’re just being picky. The Paper Sound’s Trajectories is a dense, atypically dark Americana-tinged album, unrelenting and […]

    The post City Slang: Music review roundup appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit launches website to auction city-owned homes

    “Neighbors wanted.” That’s the message on the homepage of buildingdetroit.org, a new website launched by the City of Detroit today to auction off city-owned homes to prospective buyers who pledge to fix them up and move in. “We are moving aggressively to take these abandoned homes and get families living in them again,” Mayor Mike Duggan said in a statement today. “There are a lot of people who would love to move into many of our neighborhoods. Knowing that other people are going to be buying and fixing up the other vacant homes at the same time will make it a lot easier for them to make that commitment.” The website to facilitate the auctions went live this afternoon. The first auction is scheduled to take place Monday, May 5. Officials said in a news release that one home will be auctioned per day, Monday through Friday. Fifteen homes are available for sale on the site, a dozen of which are in the East English Village neighborhood. Any Michigan resident, company, or organization that can do business in the state can bid, according to the website. Properties will be for sale for only one day, with bidding taking place from 8 […]

    The post Detroit launches website to auction city-owned homes appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Tickets for Steven Spielberg, John Williams summer concert sell out in 15 minutes

    In case you haven’t heard, two of the biggest names in film, Steven Spielberg and John Williams, are collaborating to put on a benefit concert for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra this summer. In case you wanted to go- well, you’re too damn late. The DSO says tickets to the June 14 concert were snapped up in a record-breaking 15 minutes after they went on sale at 9 a.m. today. The DSO has since released this statement to fans who didn’t snag seats: Our apologies to everyone who was unable to buy tickets this morning for our historic benefit concert featuring John Williams and Steven Spielberg. Despite increasing our phone and internet system capacity for the day, a surge of hundreds of ticket buyers purchased tickets in a matter of minutes, filling the phone lines and temporarily maxing out our web servers. After a one-hour pre-sale made available to donors and subscribers at 8am, we released additional seats at 9am to the general public, including seats available for as low as $30. All seats sold out immediately. The concert program seems nothing short of top notch: Williams will conduct the orchestra as it performs some of his most iconic tunes, such […]

    The post Tickets for Steven Spielberg, John Williams summer concert sell out in 15 minutes appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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Politics & Prejudices

What it all meant

Jack on Obama’s win and what it signifies

From the day he took office, millions of people were out to ruin him. The haters, the racists, the birthers. "I want him to fail," Rush Limbaugh proclaimed before he took office. The GOP leadership was on the same page. They indicated they'd do anything they could to make that happen.

President Barack Obama came into office in what was clearly the scariest national economy since the Great Depression. His first task was to prevent it from toppling into collapse. The auto industry was facing bankruptcy. Had Chrysler and General Motors shut down, Ford would have undoubtedly followed. Ann Arbor's Center for Automotive Research, or CAR, told me that could mean the loss of another 1 million to 3 million jobs, many of them in this part of the world.

Obama bailed 'em out — got the industry back in its feet, cleaned up General Motors and had Chrysler merge with Fiat. Today, they are all making billions. Most said the president should then have put his political muscle into a quick-fix jobs program. Instead, he opted to spend his capital to try to do something no other president had managed — universal health insurance. 

Franklin D. Roosevelt wasn't able to do it. Harry Truman wasn't. Even Lyndon Johnson couldn't. But Barack Obama got the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed, though it cost Democrats control of the House of Representatives. He also did what George Bush failed to do for more than seven years: Find Osama bin Laden, and kill him.

Nevertheless, the Republicans thought he was toast. Unemployment was still maddeningly high — barely less than 8 percent. The deficit had skyrocketed out of control. They smelled victory. They nominated their best-looking candidate.

Mitt Romney promised to balance the budget, provide millions of new jobs, cut taxes (mainly for the wealthy), and — oh, yeah — reduce the deficit at the same time. He figured he was in.

He was so sure he was going to be the next president he had his transition website ready to go, and a huge display of fireworks ready to be shot off in Boston Harbor.

Romney bragged that he only had written a victory speech, not a concession statement. He spent Election Day dashing around the country.

President Obama hung out in Chicago, playing pickup basketball with his friends. Then the votes started coming in.

"We'll see who is on the correct side of the electorate," one right-winger from Ohio e-mailed me, just before the first numbers arrived. I never heard from him again.

Long before 11 p.m., stunned Republicans were watching CNN's John King standing in front of his famous election map, explaining he saw no way Romney could win Florida. 

Everything was over well before midnight. The electoral vote was Obama 332, Romney 206. The popular vote was closer than last time, but when all the absentee ballots have been counted, that reviled Kenyan socialist will have defeated the boy from Bloomfield Hills by about 4 million votes.

That makes Barack Obama the first Democratic president since Franklin Roosevelt to win a majority of the popular vote two elections in a row.

Early the next morning, I received a hysterical e-mail from a woman from the Toledo suburbs. WE ARE NOW A COMMUNIST COUNTRY RULED BY A MUSLIM, it said.

Inshallah, baby, and straighten that hammer and sickle on your burqa! Incredibly, the voters hadn't been fooled. They saw what the Republicans were offering, and they didn't like it.

Though the presidential election got the most attention, other results indicated a real repudiation of much of what the Republican Party stands for. For the first time, voters in three states — Washington, Minnesota and Maryland — voted to legalize gay marriage. Wisconsin elected an openly gay woman — Tammy Baldwin— to the U.S. Senate, defeating a popular former governor. That's the home state of GOP vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan, by the way. Wisconsin voters gave Obama an easy win, indicating they didn't want Pauly boy as veep.

Republicans also had two candidates for the U.S. Senate in deep red states who could have won easily — till they started showing their true colors and feelings about women. Todd Akin of Missouri said if a woman was the victim of "legitimate rape," she couldn't get pregnant. Richard Mourdock in Indiana said if a woman became pregnant as a result of rape, "that was something God intended to happen."

Fortunately, God evidently didn't intend for them to become senators. A year ago, it seemed an almost safe bet that the GOP would take control of the Senate.

It seemed completely safe to say that Republicans would gain seats. After all, 23 Democrats were up for re-election; only 10 Republicans. But when the votes were counted, the score was 25 Dems and independents who vote with them; 8 Republicans.

Thanks to expert gerrymandering by state legislatures, Republicans lost a few seats but kept solid control of the U.S. House of Representatives, probably by 235 to 200.

This, despite the fact that more people voted for Democrats. That means we are back to divided government.

Whether any sanity will prevail before we hit the "fiscal cliff" of deficit reduction, nobody can say. But we can say this:

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