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  • Detroit area code 313 may be phased out

    Hey, everybody from the 313, start thinking of new numbers to rally around– the longstanding Detroit area code may be phased out. Our friends over at the Detroit News report that pending a revised estimate next week, the North American Numbering Plan Administration will stop handing out 313 telephone prefixes on new phone numbers. Detroiters with existing cell phone lines would be able to keep their current area codes, while those with land lines would change. via Detroit News: The venerable 313 will ultimately become overtaxed. Even as Detroit’s population has fallen, cellphone usage has accelerated like one of those smoldering SRT Vipers that Dodge has been bolting together at Conner Avenue Assembly — which is, of course, comfortably within the confines of 313. … When the first five dozen area codes were assigned nearly 70 years ago, says NANPA’s Tom Foley, “that was expected basically to last forever.” Instead, somebody invented fax machines, and then somebody else came up with cellphones, and lots of somebody elses decided to give them to 10-year-olds, and meantime the population grew to 300 million. Now every telephone carrier is required to submit twice-yearly forecasts of its needs in each area code, factoring in […]

    The post Detroit area code 313 may be phased out appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Final members selected for Red Wings arena Neighborhood Advisory Council

    Unfortunately, we were unable to attend last night’s Neighborhood Advisory Council, which, in case you were unaware, is a 16-member board established to weigh in on the new Red Wings arena near downtown. About three dozen residents and property owners cast ballots by the 8 p.m. deadline on Wednesday inside the Block at Cass Park, The Detroit News reports. It’s the culmination of a handful of community meetings which began weeks ago. Councilwoman Raquel Castaneda Lopez facilitated the meetings, but emphasized at previous meetings that it’s up to the community to conduct business. According to the News, the 12 candidates selected include: Michael Boettcher, Richard Etue, Jason Gapa, Francis Grunow, Steve Guether, Paul Hughes, Ray Litt, Warner Doyle McBryde, Karen McLeod, Delphia Simmons, Melissa Thomas and Anthony Zander. Joel Landy, a land owner in the area, lost his bid. The City Council appointed four candidates last month. As we reported in this week’s issue, the Neighborhood Advisory Committee was negotiated after Olympia Development of Michigan, Detroit Red Wing’s owner Mike Ilitch’s real estate arm, balked on a proposed community benefits agreement.  The committee is charged with the task of offering input on the arena’s design, parking security and more.

    The post Final members selected for Red Wings arena Neighborhood Advisory Council appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • James McMurtry and The Bottle Rockets coming to the Magic Bag

    The Magic Bag in Ferndale will host James McMurtry and The Bottle Rockets on Thursday, May 28, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20. A press release reads, “James McMurtry recently signed with the bourgeoning Los Angeles record label Complicated Game. The legendary songwriter will enter the studio later this month to start working on his first album in six years. “I’ve got a new batch of songs, organic and with no added sulfites, aged in oak for several years,” he says. “Francois Moret at Complicated Game seems to like these songs and (producer) C.C. Adcock thinks he can turn them into a record. Good times fixing to roll.” Label head Moret agrees. “In March 2013, when C.C. Adcock told me we were going to see James McMurtry at the Continental Club in Austin, I expected to see a good show,” he says, “but what I saw left me mesmerized! I immediately knew I wanted to sign him. As a European, it is an amazing opportunity to work with one of the most talented American singer-songwriters.” Evidence: McMurtry’s Just Us Kids (2008) and Childish Things (2005). The former earned his highest Billboard 200 chart position in nearly two decades and notched […]

    The post James McMurtry and The Bottle Rockets coming to the Magic Bag appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Dead Kennedys to have a holiday in Detroit

    The Dead Kennedys, still with local boy Klaus Flouride in the ranks, will play St. Andrew’s Hall on Tuesday, June 24. Alongside Flouride and fellow original members East Bay Ray and DH Peligro, the current lineup includes singer Ron “Skip” Greer, taking the place of Jello Biafra. Downtown Brown will open that show, which starts at 7 p.m., with tickets priced $20-$25. Give Klaus a hero’s hometown welcome. Just over a week before that, strangely enough, Jello Biafra & the Guantanamo School of Medicine will play at the Magic Stick. It’s a weird coincidence, but one that DK fans should be happy to embrace. That show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $17-$19. Local hardcore vets Negative Approach play before Jello, with the Crashdollz opening the show. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Dead Kennedys to have a holiday in Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Planet Ant presents A Steady Rain

    The Planet Ant Theatre in Hamtramck will present a police drama called A Steady Rain May 2 through 24. Planet Ant veterans Ryan Carlson and York Griffith will star in the play, written by House of Cards and Mad Men co-writer Keith Huff. Tickets ($10-$20) are on sale now at PlanetAnt.com. According to the press release, “A Steady Rain by Keith Huff focuses on Joey and Denny, best friends since kindergarten and partners on the police force whose loyalty to each other is tested by domestic affairs, violence and the rough streets of Chicago. Joey helps Denny with his family and Denny helps Joey stay off the bottle. But when a routine disturbance call takes a turn for the worse their loyalty is put to the ultimate test.First produced at Chicago Dramatists, A Steady Rain appeared on Broadway featuring Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig. The Planet Ant production of A Steady Rain is directed by York Griffith featuring Ryan Carlson and Andy Huff. This marks the return of two of Planet Ant’s founding members. Carlson and Griffith. Griffith has served as the theatre’s Artistic Director where he directed the critically-acclaimed productions The Adding Machine and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? […]

    The post Planet Ant presents A Steady Rain appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • You can wear Detroit’s blight on your face

    There is no easy answer to the question regarding what should be done with Detroit’s abandoned homes. However, an Eastern Market company has a solution that could reflect Detroit’s possibly bright future. Homes Eyewear has set out to make the city a little more stylish, and do their part in cleaning it up by repurposing select woods from neglected homes for sunglasses. All of the wood that Homes uses is harvested from vacant houses with the assistance of Reclaim Detroit. A lot of work goes into prepping the wood to be cut and shaped into frames. Homes goes through each piece to remove nails, paint or anything else detrimental to their production (it’s a bit strange to think that your wooden sunglasses could have had family portraits nailed to them). In order to produce more durable eyewear, they salvage only hardwoods like maple or beech, which are difficult to come by as most of the blighted homes were built with softer woods like Douglas fir and pine. If you’re worried about looking goofy, or shudder at the thought of salvaged wood resting on your nose, you can rest easy. Homes currently offers frames in the popular wayfarer style and are developing their unique spin on the classic aviators. For as […]

    The post You can wear Detroit’s blight on your face 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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