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  • Lessenberry on the battle to ban the Metro Times

    Turns out, our very own Jack Lessenberry knows the Grosse Pointer seeking to ban the MT: Ten years or so ago, a woman named Andrea Lavigne sat in on some media survey classes I was teaching at Wayne State University. She was in her late 30s or early 40s, and seemed to be searching for answers. She wanted to know how the media work, and told me she was a Maoist. This fascinated me, because I thought authentic Maoists were almost as rare as passenger pigeons. Chairman Mao, we now know, starved to death and slaughtered tens of millions of his own citizens, and kept China economically and intellectually backward. Intrigued, I got together one night before class with her and another Maoist, to find out what they were all about. Alas, they spouted a form of primitive, grade-school Marxism. They seemed to have very little historical knowledge of Communism or what it had actually been like. Yes. A Maoist. Read the full story at Michigan Radio here.

    The post Lessenberry on the battle to ban the Metro Times appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit residents sue incinerator owner over ‘noxious odors and contaminants’

    A class-action lawsuit has been filed against the owner of Detroit’s municipal solid waste incinerator Monday, accusing the company of nuisance and gross negligence violations According to the complaint filed by Detroit-based Lidle & Dubin P.C., “On occasions too numerous to list, Plaintiffs’ property including Plaintiffs’ neighborhood, residences and yards were physically invaded by noxious odors and contaminants … As a direct and proximate result of the Defendant’s’ negligence in operating and/or maintaining the facility, Plaintiffs’ property has been invaded by noxious odors.” The eight-page complaint charges that local property values have dropped due to the incinerator’s presence, “and has interfered with Plaintiffs’ use and enjoyment of their property.” The lawsuit, filed in Wayne County Circuit Court, seeks a financial award in excess of $25,000 and all costs and attorney fees related to the case. In an email, a spokesperson for the company says, “Detroit Renewable Power is reviewing the complaint filed today,” but declined further comment. The suit follow a Metro Times’ cover story earlier this month on the growing number of odor complaints from nearby residents since Detroit Renewable Power LLC (DRP) took control of the facility in 2010. The story found a spike in citations from the Michigan Department […]

    The post Detroit residents sue incinerator owner over ‘noxious odors and contaminants’ appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Winners announced for the ‘High Times’ Medical Cannabis Cup

    The High Times Medical Cannabis Cup is more than just a celebration — although with the recent shift in attitudes toward marijuana legalization, there certainly is much to celebrate.  HT‘s Danny Danko described it as “just like any other harvest festival or a county fair where people bring their best produce, their best pigs and horses and cows, and they compete with each other for bragging rights, basically.” Here are a list of winners from this year’s Cannabis Cup, who did indeed walk home with some well-deserved bragging rights — if anyone knows their marijuana it’s High Times: Indica 1ST - Oasis Medical Seeds - Paris OG 2ND - Herbal Solutions - Alien Dawg F2 3RD - Herban Legendz, LLC - Grape OX Sativa 1ST - Arborside Compassion - CATFISH 2ND - Organibliss - Ghost Train Haze #1 3RD - We Grow Education and Collective Centers - MelonGum Hybrid 1ST - Herbal Solutions - Gorilla Glue 2ND - Pure West Compassion Club - Death Star 3RD - Kushman Veganics for Buds & Roses - Veganic Candyland Concentrate 1ST - Mr. B’s Extracts - Raskal’s Lemon 2ND - 710 Savant - Kosher Kush Dewaxed 3RD - Oasis Medical / Vader Extracts / Dab Vader - Candy Jack Shatter Non-Solvent Hash 1ST - NLG - Jedi Kush Ice Wax 2ND - Arborside Compassion - HeadCandy Kush Hash 3RD - New World Seeds Resource […]

    The post Winners announced for the ‘High Times’ Medical Cannabis Cup appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Satanists Leverage Hobby Lobby Ruling In Support of Pro­Choice Initiative

    So is the title of the press release we received this morning from The Satanic Temple. You may recall our interview with Doug Mesner from earlier this year. The Satanic Temple is, perhaps, best known for trying to build a child-friendly monument to satan in OKC: How Mesner and TST are rocking the Hobby Lobby ruling is interesting: The Satanic Temple Leverages Hobby Lobby Ruling to Claim Exemption From State Mandated ProLife Materials Reads the next line of the press release. And then their website: A number of states require that abortion providers give information to patients that maybe inaccurate or misleading. Demands that members of the Satanic Temple, or those who share our beliefs, be subjected against our will to anything but the best scientific understanding are a violation of our religious beliefs. Thanks to rulings such as Hobby Lobby, we can take a stand against these practices. Mesner points out how the Hobby Lobby ruling bolsters their position: While we feel we have a strong case for an exemption regardless of the Hobby Lobby ruling, the Supreme Court has decided that religious beliefs are so sacrosanct that they can even trump scientific fact. This was made clear when […]

    The post Satanists Leverage Hobby Lobby Ruling In Support of Pro­Choice Initiative appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Reports from the ‘High Times’ Medical Marijuana Cup in Clio

    On Saturday we set out to check out the High Times Medical Marijuana Cup in Clio, Mich. — High Times did hold a Cannabis Cup in the Motor City back in 2011, but Detroit police flexing their muscles and making arrests at that event may have been to blame, at least partially, for the choice of a new host city. The event was held this year at the Auto City Speedway, (also known as “B.F.E.” to Detroiters). Nevertheless, the prospect of stopping at the Torch for the best burger in the Genessee County was compelling — and anyway, this was the Cannabis Cup we were talking about. Was it really going to be “work?” It turned out, just a little bit. An inexplicable lack of an on-site ATM meant hiking quite a ways up the road to the nearest gas station, and then waiting for an attendant to restock the ATM with cash. We spoke with plenty of Cannabis Cup attendees at the gas station — everybody knows that the local gas station is a stoner’s best-friend. The two-day festival, for which one-day tickets were sold for $40, was divided into two sections — a general area and a medicating […]

    The post Reports from the ‘High Times’ Medical Marijuana Cup in Clio appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • ICYMI: Forbes rates Detroit #9 on its “America’s Most Creative Cities” list

    Yes, it’s true. Forbes says Detroit is one of America’s most creative cities: “We ranked these places based on four metrics: activity per capita on project-funding platforms Kickstarter and Indiegogo and music sites Bandcamp and ReverbNation. The goal was to capture organic creativity, since many artistic and musical types have “day jobs” outside of creative pursuits.” The Forbes list sandwiches #9 Detroit between #8 Seattle and #10 Oakland, Calif. If you are watching the art and culture explosion happening right now in Detroit, you probably think we should rank higher than #2 Boston and #1 San Francisco, if only for the fact that it’s actually affordable to create here and there is space for everyone to be creative. But hey, those metrics weren’t part of the equation. And there’s always next year.

    The post ICYMI: Forbes rates Detroit #9 on its “America’s Most Creative Cities” list 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

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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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