Oakland County

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s two largest counties are illegally foreclosing on thousands of properties for delinquent taxes, according to class-action lawsuits filed this month.

Wayne and Oakland counties have both foreclosed on thousands of properties for unpaid taxes in recent years.

But in doing so they’ve denied property owners their due process rights, according to the lawsuits filed in circuit courts for both counties.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan counties rank near the top and the bottom of a new national report on home buying.

Realty Trac looked at affordability and accessibility for home buyers putting up a low down payment.

The report finds 90% of 370 counties nationwide were more affordable than they have been historically. 

There are rumors that powerhouse Oakland County Executive and outspoken Republican L. Brooks Patterson may not run again in 2016, leaving Republicans in a bind.

PONTIAC, Mich. - Economists are predicting that Oakland County in a few years will have replenished 87 percent of jobs lost from 2000 through summer 2009.

Experts at the University of Michigan believe the county's unemployment rate will fall below 5 percent next year. The annual forecast was released Thursday.

The Woodward Spine

Neighbors of the Detroit Zoo are complaining about the noise -- and it's not the lions, the tigers, or the bears that they have a problem with.

It's the noise produced by the summer crowds the zoo brings in, various night-time events like concerts, and loudspeakers playing prehistoric dinosaur noises.

via city of Detroit

Detroit officials say they’re confident the fledgling Great Lakes Water Authority will work out—despite concerns and complaints from some suburban officials questioning its future.

The GLWA gives regional players a larger role in running Detroit’s city-owned water system, which services some 4 million customers in southeast Michigan.

Alex Ragone / Flickr Creative Commons

Starting a week from today, if you need emergency help in Oakland County, you'll be able to text 911 – as well as call it.

"The sheriff's office in Oakland County just wants to use the latest technology available to identify callers in need," said Mel Maier, chief of  emergency management operations for the Sheriff's Office.

Dan Gilbert, Quicken Loans Founder and CEO
Quicken Loans

There was some recent sand-throwing between Oakland County's feisty executive, L. Brooks Patterson, and Dan Gilbert, who is arguably Detroit's No. 1 booster, both in terms of buying, building, and enticing companies to move to Detroit. 

Allyson Limon / Flickr

Oakland County is launching a new initiative to help grow tech companies. It’s part of the county’s larger effort to diversify its automotive-dominated economy.

Irene Spanos directs economic development for Oakland County. She says it's already home to nearly 2,000 IT and communication firms that employ more than 42,000 people.

“Oakland County goes on these trade missions around the world and we talk about some of the work that some of our tech companies are working on globally – they don’t think that it’s coming from Michigan,” Spanos said, “We need to change that.”

The Detroit Institute of Arts
Flickr

The DIA was left with egg on its face when news broke of double digit pay increases and $50,000 bonuses doled out to each of its top two executives in 2012, just as the DIA got voters in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties to say "yes" to a special millage to keep its doors open.

Two years ago, Graham Beal, whose compensation is over half a million dollars a year, got a 13% raise. Annmarie Erickson, the DIA's Chief Operating Officer, got a 36% raise.

Now it seems the firestorm of protest has pushed the DIA to re-think this whole "raise and bonus thing."

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) - Officials in Oakland County have estimated flood damage from Monday's rain storm at $337 million, but warn the amount could increase as more assessments are received.

Communities in Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties are trying to determine how much the final costs will be after more than 6 inches of rain fell in some areas.

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson says Friday that "the damage estimate does not reflect the magnitude of the task that lies ahead" for residents.

via buildingdetroit.org

  First the flood waters, now the concern is about mold.

Many southeast Michigan basements flooded on Monday.

George Miller is the director of Oakland County’s Department of Health and Human Services. He says to avoid mold, homeowners should remove everything damaged by water from their flooded basement.

“The biggest thing is, the faster you can get the water out of your basement and start to dry it out, the less chance you’re going to have for the mold that everybody’s concerned with,” says Miller.

gophouse.org

Later this morning a legislative oversight committee will discuss a new secretive cell phone tracking device the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department is using.

Not much is known about the device.

It can reportedly trick nearby cell phones into providing data to the police. It can be helpful in tracking people, like missing children and fugitives, but it’s not clear how much more information is collected and what the sheriff’s department does with it.

via Oakland County

Two University of Michigan economists say Oakland County should keep up its post-recession job growth through at least 2016.

U of M economists George Fulton and Don Grimes do the annual county-level economic forecast for Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson’s office every year.

Their current forecast suggests Oakland County will add nearly 43,000 jobs in the next three years. That’s in addition to the roughly 65,000 it’s added since 2009.

Google Maps

People are getting poorer in Oakland County.

This is the major finding of a report released by Lighthouse of Oakland County today. After analyzing census data, Lighthouse President John Ziraldo says that between 2005 and 2012, the number of people living under the federal poverty line has grown about 77 percent. That's 118,000 people now living in poverty in a county whose overall population hasn't changed much in the same time frame, even if the socioeconomics of the people has.

On top of a rise in people living in poverty is a rise in the working poor – people whose income isn't enough to meet basic needs. Ziraldo says these folks often don't qualify for government programs, but they still need help paying bills and getting enough to eat.

"For all of Oakland County, there's probably between 15 and 20 percent of our overall population that really struggles, every month, to meet their basic needs," he says.

Oakland County is expensive, he says. It's the wealthiest county in Michigan, and the Michigan League for Public Policy says the amount of money a three-person family needs to cover the basics is $47,000.

Michigan State University

The latest Michigan community to fall into financial collapse is the tiny half-square mile community of Royal Oak Township, in Oakland County.

Late last month, Gov. Rick Snyder confirmed a financial emergency existed in Royal Oak Township. That cleared the way for action under Michigan's overhauled emergency manager act, PA 436.

What's happened in Royal Oak Township illustrates the changes and options available under PA 436 after voters rejected the previous emergency manager law in November 2012. We wondered if other communities can learn cautionary lessons from the financial troubles of Royal Oak Township.

Eric Scorsone, municipal finance expert from Michigan State University, joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

DeBoer Rowse Adoption Legal Fund

A challenge to Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage is coming to an end in federal court. Arguments have ended and we are waiting for a ruling from U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman within the next two weeks. 

The case involves a lesbian couple from Oakland County and their adopted children. The women want legal joint custody of each other's children for purposes of inheritance, benefits and guardianship, should one of them die.

But state law does not allow gay marriage. Michigan passed a constitutional amendment in 2004 banning same-sex marriage. 

Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown wants to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, and she joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above. 

user aMichiganMom / Flickr

It's Thursday, which means it's time for our weekly check-in with Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes.

And today he's got his eye fixed on the storm clouds that are gathering over the Detroit Institute of Arts. This particular growing cloud comes from the Oakland County.

Daniel Howes joined us today to talk about the troubles the DIA now faces.

Listen to the full interview above.

User: Brother O'Mara / Flickr

Deadline set for the removal of pet coke

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing has ordered the removal of all petroleum coke from the city's riverfront.  Detroit Bulk Storage must remove the material by Aug. 27.  The Associated Press reports that the storage company failed to move the pet coke by a previous deadline set by Detroit's Buildings, Safety Engineering and Environmental Department.

Jackson city employees face layoffs

Some Jackson employees may be laid off after a blow to the city's budget.  The Michigan Court of Appeals struck down Jackson's storm water fee as an illegal tax.  Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody reports that "since 2011, the city collected more than two million dollars from the fee to pay for street cleaning and leaf pick up. But without the storm water fee revenues, Mayor Martin Griffin says the city will have to cancel those city services and lay off the city employees who performed them."

Oakland County leverages DIA millage

Oakland County is trying to protect its contributions to the Detroit Institute of Arts.  There is concern that the $23 million in annual millage money from several counties may fall into Detroit's creditor's hands rather than the DIA.  Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek reports that "Oakland County officials have threatened to revoke its portion of the millage if the DIA’s assets are diminished, or if any of that millage money ends up going to pay off the city’s debts."

DIA

Oakland County is looking to protect itself from the potential fallout of Detroit’s bankruptcy.

Specifically, the county wants to make sure a multi-county millage for the Detroit Institute of Arts doesn’t fall into city creditors’ hands.

Voters in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties passed the special DIA millage—worth about $23 million annually--last year.

http://www.actionfornature.org/

When you're walking in your favorite park, what do you do when you see trash? Plastic bags, empty bottles, and cigarette butts?

Chances are most of us would shake our heads in dismay at the nerve of someone who would deliberately litter like that and keep on walking.

We wanted you to meet an Oakland County teenager who doesn't just keep on walking. She puts on her rubber gloves and picks up other peoples' trash.

17 year old Brianna Moore has just been recognized by a San Francisco group called "Action For Nature." They've given Briana an International Young Eco-Hero Award for her efforts to clean up her community.

Brianna Moore joined us today from her home in Oak Park.

Listen to the full interview above.

Oakland County officials hope their lawsuit against Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac goes to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Oakland and Genessee County treasurers are both suing Fannie and Freddie because they didn’t pay millions in so-called “transfer taxes” on a number of real estate deals.

The mortgage giants have claimed that under federal law, they’re exempt from those state and local taxes because they’re government agencies.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

“The Donald” is coming to Oakland County.

The real estate mogul and television star is scheduled to speak today at the Lincoln Day Dinner at the Suburban Collection Showcase convention center in Novi.

Lincoln Day is an annual fundraising event for state and county Republican Party organizations. Tickets to the meal start at $750.

According to the Detroit Free Press:

via flickr

Oakland County is helping neighboring Macomb County get back online after a fire last week.

That suspected electrical fire seriously damaged Macomb’s IT department—shutting down phones and computer networks.

So Oakland County is offering Macomb staff, equipment and space to start re-building.

“Oakland County has opened up its data center to host Macomb County’s equipment and personnel on a temporary basis in order to get Macomb County back online,” says a press release from Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson’s office.

The Woodward Spine

Some communities in Wayne County have been using tens of thousands of dollars in property tax money intended to support the Detroit Zoo for their own civic improvement projects.

Voters in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties approved a property tax increase in 2008 to help fund the Detroit Zoo. 

But the Detroit Free Press reports some Wayne County cities have collected the tax and spent it instead on sprucing up their own downtowns.  In some years, the money has added up to more than $200,000.

Sandy Dorey / Oakland County Parks

The new year will come early for some people in Southeast Michigan. Tonight, Oakland County Parks and Recreation will host its annual "Almost New Year's" party.

The two-hour dance is specially created for the county's developmentally disabled adults. The party not only occurs before the year change, but the year-end countdown happens at 8:30 p.m. instead of midnight.

Sandy Dorey created the event. She says older parents and caregivers often don't want to stay out late on New Year's. She says it's also difficult to make reservations for Dec. 31.

"We just thought, 'It's a celebration.' We'd have the hats and everything else, so we just kick it off a few days early," she said.

VickieMarkavitch Twitter

Yesterday, we covered the proposed education overhaul bill that could drastically change the ways students attend school.

Today, we spoke with Dr. Vickie Markavitch about Michigan’s education system and her view of the proposed changes.

Markavitch, a Superintendent of Oakland County Schools, claims the changes would have a negative impact on Michigan’s schools.

“I’ve been an educator for 46 years. I don’t think we can turn over our next generation to something that is ‘anyhow, any one.’ It’s a corporatization of public education. It really has nothing to do with improving achievement,” she said.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The reward for information in the I-96 shooting spree is now over $100 thousand.

Local, county, state and federal law enforcement agencies are investigating 25 shooting incidents along the I-96 corridor from Shiawassee County to Oakland County.  There’s only been one minor injury.

Gene Wriggelsworth is Ingham County’s sheriff.   He says More than 600 tips have come into the task force leading the investigation.   There is evidence linking some of the crime scenes, but Wriggelsworth is not ruling out a possible copycat shooter as well.

WIXOM, Mich. (AP) - The Oakland County sheriff says authorities are investigating at least 16 shootings for any common threads in many Michigan communities.

Sheriff Mike Bouchard says no one has been injured but there have been "some very close calls." He told reporters Friday that cars and people appear to be the targets. Shootings have been reported in Oakland, Livingston and Ingham counties.

Bouchard says the shootings occurred Tuesday through Thursday. Someone shot at five vehicles in Wixom in just a few minutes Thursday.

For the last 40 years, two things have been true. Oakland County, home to most of Detroit’s white-collar suburbs, has been Michigan’s richest county. And L. Brooks Patterson has been Oakland’s dominant
personality, first as county prosecutor, then as county executive. When his current term ends in January, he will have held that office for 20 years.


That’s exactly as long as his longtime political enemy, Coleman Young, was Mayor of Detroit. But while Coleman finally retired after 20 years, Brooks is, at age 73, running again.

Pages