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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

Will it work?

One thing is certain: Detroit cannot fix Detroit

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Nobody really knows.

By the narrowest of margins — one vote — Detroit's City Council voted last week not to commit political suicide. They opted instead to approve a "consent agreement" under which the state and city agree to work together to make the radical economic changes needed.

Switch one vote the other way, and the odds are that the city's elected officials would today be essentially powerless, and under the thumb of an emergency manager. 

Everybody praised the council's newfound maturity. Most said the consent agreement is really the best possible outcome.

And if it works the way it is supposed to, it does give the city a way to solve its current economic crisis, and at least avoid toppling into bankruptcy. But I am not so sure. Whether the consent agreement will work, even in the short run, is far from certain.  It depends on close cooperation between the mayor, the governor and the City Council, three players who would probably have a hard time agreeing on how to pour piss out of a boot.

Consider this, for starters:  The agreement specifies that a nine-member Financial Advisory Board will oversee all aspects of city finances. The state appoints four members; the council and the mayor each appoint two. But the ninth — and potentially deciding vote — is supposed to be appointed jointly by the mayor and governor and then confirmed by the City Council.

Good luck finding someone those birds can all agree upon.

But that's not the only hurdle. Within a month, the mayor has to find people to fill two key positions: a chief financial officer, who cannot be a former elected official, and a powerful program manager.

The program manager will have the power, if necessary, to make unilateral changes to any city decisions that the Financial Advisory Board decides violate the consent agreement.

Those positions have to be filled right away, in other words, picked by the mayor in consultation with state Treasurer Andy Dillon, who is essentially a surrogate for the governor. That wouldn't be easy in the best of times. But these aren't the best of times, and there is another problem nobody is talking very much about.

Mayor Dave Bing is sick, and there are reasons to believe we don't really know how sick. A few weeks ago, we were told he was going to the hospital following some "dental discomfort."

Next thing we knew, he was having emergency surgery for a perforated intestine. Soon after he got out, he was back in for what they said was mild discomfort, which turned out to be a pulmonary embolism. This is a man in his late 60s, who is under heavy stress.

Don't expect him to be at full strength anytime soon.

Former Wayne State President Irvin Reid was a member of the financial review team that had the responsibility of investigating Detroit's distress and making a recommendation to the governor. Reid is normally a cautious man; I have known him since 1997, and don't recall him ever taking a controversial position.

To my surprise, he came out two days before the consent agreement was agreed upon to say flatly that, in his opinion, Detroit needs an emergency manager. Things are so bad, he wrote in a guest column in the Detroit Free Press, that "I am not convinced that even this will prevent bankruptcy at this stage. It may merely help us get to a managed process."  To his credit, Irvin Reid pulled no punches.

"I shudder at the sight of a city on the brink of anarchy," he wrote. Reid, himself born into rural poverty in the apartheid world of South Carolina, has no use for the irrational idiots threatening to burn the city down or claiming that "Detroit will fix Detroit," a theory that he, with classic understatement, called "downright tiresome."

The problem is precisely that. Detroit cannot fix Detroit. The city is billions and billions of dollars in debt. Half the city's adults are neither working nor looking for work, according to the U.S. government.

That's the worst ratio of any large city in the nation, and may be related to the fact that nearly half the city's adults are functionally illiterate.  The schools are broken; the streetlights don't come on. How can the 700,000 remaining Detroiters ever fix this mess?

How can they get out from under their crushing debt? They can't, and even if the short-term crisis can be solved, or deferred, the city needs to fix its infrastructure and attract new growth.

That's the only hope Detroit has for the future. If the consent agreement can get us even partly there, I'll be thrilled.

But the odds are that more radical surgery lies ahead. 

 

He's baaaack: Fans of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings all know that Sauron was the embodiment of evil in the world, and although he had been killed before, he was able to keep coming back and building his evil empire, so long as the one ring existed.

I'm sure this is purely coincidence ... but I somehow thought of the old lidless eye last week, when Matty Moroun slithered stealthily back onto the stage. Most of us, including me, were pretty much consumed with Detroit's drama, but a state employee alerted me that Matty was back with a new TV ad even more brazenly false than the others he's run. I saw the ad, and he wasn't kidding.

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