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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

Last chance for Snyder

State supreme court appointment will show the guv's true colors

Photo: N/A, License: N/A


OK, eternal optimists. Is Gov. Rick Snyder in any way a principled, good-government moderate, or is he just a slightly different and tieless version of a partisan hack GOP politician?

Stop laughing. Remember that old rule about being innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, etc. I admit the evidence isn’t encouraging for the Snyder-is-a-moderate crowd.  After all, shoving right-to-work through a lame-duck session of the Legislature in a single day isn’t too moderate.

Screwing over the right of the teachers union to collect dues, and signing legislation that allowed motorcyclists to not wear helmets have all the familiar hallmarks of right-wing crazy.

But there’s a final test coming up, one that ought to either give us new hope, or seal the verdict.  Justice Diane Hathaway is due to “retire” from the Michigan Supreme Court next week.

Hathaway is retiring somewhat in the way the Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista retired, just before Fidel Castro’s troops burst into the palace. Now, she too deserves the famous presumption of innocence, but if she did what the federal government and the Judicial Tenure Commission say she did, she may well be the biggest slimeball ever to disgrace the court.

Hathaway is a Democrat, by the way; never let it be said that this column shies away from whacking the corrupt of either party. Allegedly, she and her husband temporarily transferred two homes they owned to two of his kids by a previous marriage. They did this so that a bank would write off about $600,000 they owed on yet another home when they sold it.

They apparently wanted to qualify for a hardship exemption, which was then granted.  This happened in 2010, by the way, when she was sitting on the court as one of the highest guardians of the integrity of the state’s laws. Inspiring, yes?

After the bank wrote off the mortgage, the kids then speedily transferred the other properties back to Hathaway and her husband, fellow lawyer Michael Kingsley.

WXYZ-TV news, to its credit, blew the whistle on her last May. The feds followed in November, when the U.S. government charged that Hathaway and Kingsley “systematically and fraudulently transferred property and hid assets,” to pretend they didn’t have the money to pay their mortgage.

The government then attempted to seize one of the homes, a cushy pad in Florida. Last month that action was temporarily stayed. But last week the Judicial Tenure Commission filed the most damning complaint I’ve ever seen against any judge, sitting or otherwise.

Essentially, it says she violated federal and state laws against fraud, broke federal money laundering and tax laws, and was guilty of huge ethical failings, including “irresponsible or improper conduct which erodes public confidence in the judiciary,” and a “failure to respect and observe the law.”

If that’s too subtle, the complaint adds that she “exposed the legal profession to contempt, acted contradictory to justice, ethics, honesty, or good morals.”

There’s a lot more, but that’s a fair sample of the worst of it. Complaints like this are normally followed by criminal charges, and we have to hope that her “retirement” isn’t some kind of a plea bargain. (One way you could tell they likely have the goods on Hathaway was that, when the scandal broke, Democratic State Chair Mark Brewer ran and hid.) 

Republicans, by the way, are demanding she forfeit her state pension, and if found guilty, that certainly seems right.

But now … what about her replacement? Michigan’s Supreme Court has long been viewed as pretty much a laughingstock, a holding pen for partisan hacks. One infamous University of Chicago study, in 2008, rated it dead last among all state courts when it comes to freedom from partisan bias.

The court had a 4-3 Republican majority, and the governor has the right to replace Hathaway as soon as she’s gone. Virtually everyone believes he’ll pick a fellow Republican, which will give his party a rock-solid 5-2 margin.

Normally, the governor just picks whomever he — or those who whisper in his ear — wants. But last year a truly bipartisan, blue-ribbon panel outlined a better way.

The Michigan Judicial Selection Task Force, a body whose honorary chair was former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman ever on the nation’s highest court, spent a year studying how to reform our courts.

The two working chairs were a GOP federal judge, James Ryan, who sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals, and Marilyn Kelly, a Democrat and former Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, who just retired from the bench on New Year’s Day.

The task force spent a year studying the Supreme Court and considered carefully what should happen when a justice leaves before his or her eight-year term is up. They offered an excellent plan: The governor should name an Advisory Screening Commission, made up of lawyers and non-lawyers.

They would look at anyone who wanted to be on the court, and hold public hearings. Eventually, they would “recommend to the governor a short list of three to five highly qualified applicants.” The governor would then pick any one of those he wanted. “The task force respectfully asks Governor Snyder to adopt this practice in his current administration,” the 22 members concluded — unanimously.

That’s something Snyder could do with a simple executive order. But will he? So far, he hasn’t shown any sign of it.

He did meet with the task force to discuss this issue last year, but was “politely noncommittal,” Justice Kelly said.

Sadly, few in Lansing expect Snyder to adopt judicial reform, even though this was a completely bipartisan recommendation, and no state in the nation needs a better and less political image than Michigan’s Supreme Court.

Instead, most speculation centered around his naming Oakland Circuit Judge Colleen O’Brien, who ran for the Supreme Court last year — and was thoroughly rejected by the voters barely two months ago. She finished dead last among the major party candidates, behind the two who won and even behind one Democrat who lost. She got nearly a million fewer votes than Mitt Romney, who also lost badly.

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