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  • 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.

  • 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.

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Politics & Prejudices

Wrong to recall?

Why efforts to boot Snyder may be pointless and counterprodcive

Thousands of citizens outraged by the Snyder administration's policies are now talking recall. In fact, a group has been formed that's making a serious attempt to do just that. Michigan Citizens United got petition language approved last week. They have a website, firericksnyder.org, and are taking donations and mobilizing for action. Their motto is that of the famous 18th century philosopher Edmund Burke:

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing," which is certainly true ...

Yet not the whole truth. There is an equally big truth, which every band of successful guerrilla warriors in the world has learned: Pick your battles. Yes, glorious defeats have sometimes inspired men and women to fight another day.

But all too often, losing has exactly the opposite effect. Illusions crushed, the disillusioned and dispirited melt away, turn off and drop out. That's what largely happened to the left wing in the 1960s and 1970s. The Kennedys were killed and Martin Luther King was killed and the cops smashed the protesters' heads at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in the summer of 1968.

Then Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew were elected, and boatloads of people went off to communes. When Nixon and Agnew fell, the best anyone could do was Jimmy Carter, whose most radical counterculture thought was turning down the heat and wearing a sweater.

After him came Ronald Reagan and the Bushes, interrupted only by Bill Clinton, who once described himself as an "Eisenhower Republican." I mention all this history for a reason.

We've got lots of people hot to oust Snyder, and everything I know about practical matters tells me they are going to waste a lot of energy and impale themselves on the sharp stakes of the process. Here's why: Just getting a state constitutional amendment on Michigan's ballot this year would take 322,609 valid signatures.

This number fluctuates a little, from election to election. But in practice, it is always very hard to achieve. Most who try fall short unless they have lots of corporate or special interest money behind them, and can pay people $1 a scrawl to collect signatures.

The rule of thumb is that a quarter of all signatures are always invalid. People sign twice or don't know what county they live in or aren't really registered to vote, so you have to turn in at least 25 percent more than the amount really needed to get on the ballot.

When Jack Kevorkian was riding high, he and his supporters tried to get an amendment on the ballot; he told me he thought he could get enough in a few days. They never came close.

And recalling a governor is much, much harder. Michigan Citizens United can't legally start collecting signatures till July 1. Then, they have to collect 807,000 valid signatures by Oct. 1 — well more than twice the number needed for a constitutional amendment. Practically speaking, they'd need more.

Many, many more. Citizens United estimates they'd have to collect 1.1 million signatures. According to their website, as I write these lines on May 1, the group now has $5,695 in the bank.

They would need a $1.5 million, at a minimum, to have a prayer. By the way, even if they succeeded, a recall election couldn't be called till next year. Legally, they now can hold a vote only at the next regularly scheduled election, and no sooner than 95 days after the recall petitions are filed. That means February 2012.

Plus, if they succeeded, Jesus would not become governor. Lt. Gov. Brian Calley would take over. You might want to read up on his voting record before you pull that ripcord, comrades.

Incidentally, getting a recall on the ballot does not automatically mean it will be successful. Some anti-tax fanatics did collect enough signatures to get a recall on the ballot for former Speaker of the House Andy Dillon, back in 2008.

Guess what. Voters said no. By the way, the state doesn't pay for a recall election. Every already-cash-strapped city and county and township has to bear the costs in their area.

(You don't have to take my word for any of this; look online, or call the Michigan Secretary of State elections division: 517-373-2540.)

Last week, after I said here and elsewhere that I was opposed to a recall, I was savagely attacked by a number of people, including one Regina Bruner Markowicz of Macomb County, who wrote to me that "your thinking is no longer impartial ... you are led by opinion rather than facts. You will soon become irrelevant ... our family cast its vote, and it is anti-Jack Lessenberry. You are not (any) longer our friend."

Well, hey, my dog Ashley still likes me, at least when he wants to play ball. However, I have just presented a whole lot of facts above.

But at the risk of being hated even more by the Family Markowicz, I would still be opposed to a recall even if I thought one could be achieved. (Full disclosure: I did not vote for Rick Snyder.)

I strongly oppose his cuts to education at all levels — though there are a lot of good proposals in his education policy itself.

I think ending the Earned Income Tax Credit (or EITC) for the working poor is not only socially and morally terrible, it is foolish, and will cost us all more in the long run. I also think ending tax credits for the film industry is a mistake.

Yet the voters of the state of Michigan elected Snyder by a landslide. During the campaign he said he was against the film tax credit and said he would give big tax breaks to business. He also said he was against raising the income tax to compensate. Did we really think he was going to balance the budget by finding a platinum mine under the governor's office?

Everyone should have seen this coming. However, there's another huge piece of this that everyone is missing. There is another, easier way to stop these policies. Contrary to popular opinion, Rick Snyder cannot pass laws all by himself. Matter of fact, he can't pass them at all. The Legislature has to approve any laws.

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