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    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

The future of the fairgrounds

Well-connected developers eye old state fair site

Photo: N/A, License: N/A


For more than a century, Detroiters marked the end of summer with the Michigan State Fair, the only opportunity many urban kids ever had to learn something about farming, animals and agriculture.

It was as much a part of life as snow in the winter and the forsythia blooming along the highways in spring. You could see piglets and calves actually get born, eat maple sugar candy, and go on all the amusement park rides. There was the giant butter cow (and calf), handicrafts, lots of kitsch and the chance to earn a blue ribbon, even for city kids raising rabbits or chickens.

The fair ended every summer when Labor Day came and it was time to go back to school. Over time, fashions changed, attendance dwindled, and the fair began to lose money.

But hundreds of thousands of Detroit-area folks still went, every year, right up through the fall of 2009.

That’s when Jennifer Granholm, otherwise one of the most forgettable governors in our history, killed the Michigan State Fair. The state couldn’t afford the few hundred thousand it was losing on the fair, she sniffed.

That was too much even for the tight-fisted Republicans in the Michigan Legislature. They voted to restore the fair’s funding — and Granholm vetoed that bill.

She said the land could be better used in some other way. Michigan traditions didn’t mean anything to Granholm, who has since gone back to California, where she grew up.

At the time, I thought that her idea of a “better use for the land,” meant that she had a plan to turn it over to some rich developer with connections to the Democrats, or her campaign.

But nothing happened during the remaining year of her term. Gov. Rick Snyder, however, has a track record of making things happen, and never seeing a business plan he didn’t like.

Private enterprise, in his view, is the salvation of all mankind, and the more of the people’s property that can be turned over to private developers, the better.

After languishing abandoned for three years, the Legislature voted last year to turn the fairgrounds over to the State of Michigan Land Bank Fast Track Authority.

Curiously, virtually the only objections came from few purest conservative Republicans. State Rep. Tom McMillin of Rochester Hills, for example, said: “If the desire is to sell the land, then put it up for sale,” rather than “cut deals with select well-connected people.”

Poor Tommy! Cutting deals with the in-crowd is the name of the game in Lansing. The 163-acre fairground site was indeed conveyed to the land bank, where from the start, the fix seemed to be in for a group of investors called Magic Plus, LLC.

As the name suggests, the public face of the group is former basketball star Earvin “Magic” Johnson, though the real players seem to be Joel Ferguson, the Lansing-area developer, and Marvin Beatty, a former Detroit deputy fire commissioner who these days is a vice president of the Greektown Casino.

They say they want to invest $120 million in the project, to create “an economically transformative destination for living, shopping and entertainment in the city of Detroit.”

What that really means, however, is anything but clear, and that worries members of a group called the State Fairgrounds Development Coalition.

There’s Jim Casha, for example, a civil engineer who grew up in Detroit, and still lives here when he isn’t running his horse and chicken farm in Ontario. He appeared before the Land Bank last week to beg them to reconsider.

“Because the Magic Plus plan falls so far short of the people’s expectations and because of the recent passage of the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) this proposal should be rejected and the process started over,” he argued.

What he’d like to see is a beautifully designed plan he and his allies call META – short for Michigan Energy Technology (and) Agriculture. They want to use part of the site as headquarters for the new metro-wide rapid bus service that seems likely to start up now that a Regional Transportation Authority has been created.

They’d also have room to bring the state fair back, plus a nice hotel, parks and plazas, green space and residential development. Their well-thought-out plan is beautiful.

On paper, it appears far superior to the shadowy plans of Magic Plus. The only problem is that META doesn’t have any money, as far as I can see, nor any major backers.

They have managed to raise some concerns about the Magic plan, enough so that the State Fairground Advisory Committee has expressed concerns about the fact that there is a lack of green space and no regional mass transit link.

Joel Ferguson found himself needing to proclaim that “we are not building a strip mall,” though it still isn’t clear what kind of “mixed use” structures will be built, even though last summer they were talking about doing the project in “specific and timely phases.”

Whatever that means.

Given that Detroit’s first Meijer store is being built next door, it wouldn’t seem that another strip mall is needed.

But this has been the people’s land ever since the founder of Hudson’s sold it to the Michigan State Agriculture Society, back in 1905.

Jennifer Granholm sold out Detroit children, three years ago, by killing the fair. Under my government, whoever finally gets this land would have to operate it with the public interest in mind, and in partnership with the Detroit Works plan for rebuilding Detroit unveiled a few weeks ago.

And provide space so that every year in the late summer, we could once again have an authentic, affordable state fair.

Republican treason? Last week, 13 Republicans in the Michigan State Senate took a stand similar to that of Southern slaveholders in the 19th century, who argued that their states had the right to “nullify” any federal laws they didn’t like.

What the modern nullifiers did was introduce a proposed “Michigan Firearms Freedom Act” claiming any new federal regulation of firearms would be null and void in Michigan.

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