Detroit

Mitzvah Day is joint Jewish and Muslim day of service on Christmas

Dec 25, 2014
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Members of the Detroit-area Jewish and Muslim communities are joining together on Christmas for a day of good deeds in the Detroit area. It's called Mitzvah Day.

About 1,000 volunteers from both faiths will participate in 43 service projects across metro Detroit.

Pension protest in Detroit.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Detroit's two pension funds will get $195 million from the state on Feb. 9.

A three-member board overseeing Michigan's contribution to Detroit's bankruptcy case approved the payment Monday. The money is intended to strengthen the pension funds and prevent cuts from going deeper than 4.5 percent for retirees. It also prevents any sale of city-owned art.

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. 

Sander J. Rabinowitz / Wikipedia

His former boss remarked that Bill Bonds could "read the telephone book and make you pay attention." The legendary Detroit TV anchor died over the weekend at age 82.

pinehurst19475 / Flickr

To anyone who's taking a first-time drive, the border between Detroit and the city of Grosse Pointe Park provides a stunning contrast. Grosse Pointe Park is the western-most of the five Grosse Pointes. And driving east or west on streets like Jefferson, Charlevoix, and Kercheval will give you a real eye-opening lesson in racial and economic disparity.

But you cannot drive the main thoroughfare of Kercheval. That's because Grosse Pointe Park erected farmer's market sheds right in the middle of the street at the Detroit border. 

Detroit skyline.
user JSFauxtaugraphy / Flickr

Today a special edition of Stateside with the Detroit Journalism Cooperative on Detroit after bankruptcy:

  • We examine how the city is trying to get public services back on track with new initiatives for street light replacement and more buses on the road. 
  • Residents discuss the benefits of living in Detroit’s rich cultural environment and weigh these costs with continuing to deal with crime in the area.
  • Many of the issues that led the city of Detroit to bankruptcy are also affecting Detroit schools. We review how Detroit’s education system has adjusted to the decline in funding and enrollment.
  • Detroit’s central business district has gained attention after large acquisitions from private corporations, but many residents worry this growth is bypassing neighborhoods.
  • More companies are also seeing Detroit as an opportunity, establishing themselves in the area and hiring more residents of the city.

Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan / Flickr

Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr resigned today. Gov. Rick Snyder had a little send-off for him in Detroit. Here to discuss that and other Michigan politics is the It’s Just Politics team, Rick Pluta and Michigan Radio’s resident political junkie Zoe Clark.

Click on the link above to hear Rick and Zoe discuss Orr's resignation and Michigan politics 

Courtesy photo / Holland BPW

This week, Jack Lessenberry and Emily Fox discuss Detroit’s pending bankruptcy exit, confusion over the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and a Senate bill that would count the burning of tires, used oil and other waste products as renewable energy.


Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Detroit's emergency manager says the city no longer will be in a financial emergency when it officially exits bankruptcy.

  That means Kevyn Orr's job will be done once the bankruptcy court approves the exit. He's recommending that he relinquish his position as emergency manager.


 

One of the books making many of the best books of 2014 lists was set largely in Michigan. But a book about life in Michigan after a pandemic might not be what you want to read when you are sick.

 

I found this book when I was Up North on a rainy weekend with only 100 pages left in the last book on my reading list.

 

Luckily, Petoskey has a real bookstore.

"Can I help you?" asked the guy working at McLean and Eakin.

"I don't know what to read next."

Dan Gilbert, Quicken Loans Founder and CEO
Quicken Loans

Dan Gilbert, founder of Quicken Loans, has become synonymous with downtown Detroit. 

He's been called "Detroit's savior" by the national media because of his purchase of about 60 buildings downtown, but two new articles argue for a more dynamic depiction of Gilbert.

Ryan Felton recently wrote a piece titled "Dan Gilbert, downtown Detroit's demigod" for Detroit MetroTimes. 

Anna Clark authored "Detroit's Dan Gilbert and the savior complex" for the Columbia Journalism Review.

Both articles question how Gilbert has been framed in the media and scrutinize this portrayal of Gilbert as Detroit's guardian angel.

"Journalists can sometimes conflate a private business person with a charity or philanthropic figure," Clark says. He says it's important to remember Gilbert is still an individual working for his own self-interest.

Whole Foods vegetable aisle.
Erelster / flickr.com

When the popular organic grocer Whole Foods first opened in Midtown Detroit last year, there was loud applause that a major food seller would serve the city.

However, questions soon followed.

Why Whole Foods? Could the vast majority of Detroiters afford the upscale grocer? Whole Foods management indicated that it would work towards keeping its products affordable for low-income residents. Was is successful in executing this goal? 

Tune in to Stateside to find out the perspective of Tracie McMillan, author of the Food and Environment Reporting Network and  Slate.com piece “Can Whole Foods Change the Way Poor People Eat”, on these issues and more.

Detroit from space. MacLean got a little closer than this.
NASA

It's called getting perspective - climbing up on the mountain and having a look around.

That's exactly what Alex MacLean does. As a pilot and a trained architect, MacLean goes up in the air to find out what's happening on the ground.

He's flown all around the United States, and recently his flight over Detroit was featured in the New York Times Sunday Review.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Detroit's police chief says his department needs stun guns, especially after an officer was attacked with a razor blade.

  Chief James Craig tells The Detroit News that he's talked to the mayor about purchasing Tasers. He acknowledges they're controversial and is open to a public discussion about their use.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

DETROIT- Two Michigan school districts have each received nearly $100,000 in federal grants to bring locally grown food to school cafeterias.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the grants to Detroit Public Schools and the Waterford School District on Tuesday. 

User: Nheyob / Wikimedia Commons

The terror being inflicted by ISIS against Christians in Iraq is forcing hundreds to leave the country.

Michigan is home to the second-largest Chaldean community in the world, so many of these refugees have now made it to the Metro Detroit area.

Detroit skyline.
user JSFauxtaugraphy / Flickr

Update 7:25 pm

100% of Detroit's public lighting grid was up and running as of Tuesday evening, city officials said, while noting Public Lighting Department crews were still dealing with a handful of "localized issues."

All PLD customers lost power this morning, after a "major cable failure" at the Mistursky power station. When crews tried to reconnect part of the system through another circuit, a breaker failed, triggering a system-wide shutdown around 10:30 am.

The PLD grid is being phased out over four years, and is currently serviced by DTE Energy. DTE is in the process of building a replacement grid, but is still using the old infrastructure to serve most PLD customers in the meantime. Those customers include some of the city's largest institutions--such as the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center, a number of courts, many Detroit Public Schools, and the Detroit Institute of Arts.

At an afternoon press conference, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said the outage is "another reminder of how much work we have to do to rebuild this city."

“A bankruptcy order doesn’t solve the decades of neglect in our infrastructure, and that’s what we saw," said Duggan.

“Every month that goes by, we will be more and more on a more modern system, and the likelihood of this happening will go down. But it’s part of rebuilding the city.”

DTE Electric President Jerry Norcia said the company is in the process of inspecting the current system and making needed upgrades, but had been focusing on known weak points. 

"This was a station that had not failed before," said Norcia, who said the exact cause of the cable failure isn't known yet.

The city's police and fire stations also lost power, but the 911 dispatch system and other communications were up and running throughout. That was fortunate, as some trauma patients had to be re-routed from Detroit's Receiving Hospital, and firefighters rescued people stranded on the top floors of a few downtown buildings.

Fire Commissioner Edsel Jenkins said emergency personnel kept things operating with only a few minor adjustments. “They received instructions to move their vehicles outside the quarters, so we were able to respond to every call for help around this city," he said.

The Detroit Public Schools and Wayne State University canceled afternoon classes due to the outage.

Update 12:19 p.m.

Here's a statement from the Detroit Public Lighting Department:

The city’s public lighting grid suffered a major cable failure that has caused the entire grid to lose power at approximately 10:30 this morning.   The outage is affecting all customers on the PLD grid.  We have isolated the issue and are working to restore power as soon as possible.

The city’s Public Lighting Department is working closely with DTE during this process.  Mayor Mike Duggan and representatives of DTE will provide further details a 2PM press briefing at Detroit Public Safety Headquarters.

11:26 a.m.

A power outage affecting parts of Detroit closed several government buildings, including some courthouses, and left intersections without working traffic lights.

The outage happened about 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Paul Engstrom/Skillman Foundation

About 50 civic leaders met today in Detroit to develop a plan to improve life outcomes for young men of color.

The group is taking up the challenge of President Barack Obama's "My Brother's Keeper Initiative," launched early this year to address the growing disparities faced by African American and Latino boys and young men. The group is working to come up with a report and a set of recommendations in 120 days.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said his priority for 2015 is to create opportunities for Detroit youth.

Time to turn Michigan's "three economies" into one

Dec 1, 2014
Wikimedia

When it comes to economic growth in Michigan, one size does not fit all. Take a look at the varying scope and scale of companies here and you’ll find a general pattern of three different types of businesses associated with different regions:  large multinational corporations in Southeast Michigan, small high-tech start-ups in Ann Arbor, and family-owned, mid-size companies in Western Michigan.

DETROIT  - A three-judge panel will hear former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's appeal for a new trial.

  Documents show oral arguments are scheduled for Jan. 13 before the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.

  Kilpatrick wants his corruption conviction overturned. He is serving a 28-year sentence at a federal prison after a jury last year convicted him of two dozen crimes, from tax evasion to bribery. He appealed, saying there was a conflict involving his attorneys, among other reasons.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT - Law enforcement officials in Detroit say they have arrested dozens of people and seized illegal weapons and drugs in a coordinated enforcement effort.

  The Detroit Police Department said in a press release Wednesday that the effort dubbed "Operation Wild Turkey" focused on two precincts on the city's east side. City police worked with state and federal law enforcement agencies.

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

READERS - PLEASE NOTE: This story was written in the afternoon of 11/25 - and is about the protests that happened during the day. This story was published before the larger protests occurred in the evening.

Small protests continue around Michigan today after news broke last night that a St. Louis County grand jury won’t indict Darren Wilson, a white police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown, an unarmed black man in Ferguson, Missouri.  

House fire in Detroit.
Dave Hogg / Flickr

"Speramus Meliora; Resurget Cineribus."

 "We Hope for Better Things; It Shall Rise From the Ashes."

Fr. Gabriel Richard wrote that after a tremendous fire in 1805 that destroyed most of Detroit.

Those words from the French-Canadian priest became the motto of city - a city whose history is filled with many different kinds of fires.

Michael Jackman spells out this history in his story for The Metro Times.

Listen to our conversation with Jackman below.


Charles & Adrienne Esseltine / Flickr / Flickr

Sixteen people were charged in an indictment unsealed today, for operating a fraudulent telemarketing scheme involving losses of $20 million and almost 300 victims around the country.

According to the U.S. Attorney in Detroit, the telemarketing ring called people offering them cheap deals on homes in Detroit, claiming the houses were bank-owned and up for a sale at a price way under their market value.  

Foreclosure sign
Jeff Turner / Michigan Radio

Wayne County has begun tax foreclosure proceedings on nearly 75,000 properties, up 34% from 56,000 last year.

Treasury workers last month began posting notices on properties the county plans to auction next fall if owners don't pay taxes or agree to payment plans.

There are 62,000 properties in Detroit owing $326.4 million in taxes, interest and fees that are set to be foreclosed. Motor City Mapping data analyzed by Loveland Technologies indicates that 37,000 of those Detroit Properties are occupied.

The "Taxi House" in the Heidelberg Project.
Heather Phillips / Flickr

Another fire has been reported at the Heidelberg Project in Detroit.

The "Taxi House" was burned inside and in the rear, according to the Detroit News. The paper reports it's the 12th fire in 18 months at the Heidelberg Project.

Security cameras and security patrols were put in place in the last year after a string of arsons struck the project.

Lauren Abdel-Razzaq of the Detroit News reported that Tyree Guyton, the artist behind the decades-old installation, was sweeping up outside the burned house on Sunday afternoon.

More from the News:

Although the art installation's brainchild wasn't saying much about the fire, he was sending a message by standing out front of the house cleaning up what he could: He's standing strong and not going anywhere.

"Mother Teresa said, 'what you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build it anyway,' " Guyton said. "That's all I want to say."

He declined to say whether any suspects have been spotted on the organizations security cameras. 

After the string of arsons, the Cultural Landscape Foundation has listed the Heidelberg Project as "among the most endangered in the United States."

Vacant lot in Detroit.
University of Michigan School of Natural Resources & Environment / Flickr

This Week in Review, Jack Lessenberry and Rina Miller discuss Gov. Rick Snyder’s Asia trip, the financial status of Michigan’s schools, and a new plan to sell Detroit land.


user memories_by_mike / Flickr

 Welcome back to ArtPod, the arts-obsessed home for Michigan’s movie, music and book lovers.

Here’s what we're talking about right now:

1)      Matt Jones. The Ypsilanti indie-rocker with a cult following, a great new album (arguably his best yet) and a serious Civil War obsession. We’ll talk with him about alcoholism, getting through a self-destructive phase, depression and making great music with people you love.

2)      But first, let’s go back to a story that was just cool and different and got some press in the papers but nothing that really did it justice.

DTE's St. Clair Power Plant in East China, Michigan.
user cgord / wikimedia commons

 A new report from Public Sector Consultants projects Michigan will lose enough energy production for 1 million people in 2016.

According to Julie Metty Bennett, who helped author the report, Michigan is overly reliant on coal-fired power plants compared to other states.

Bennett says many of these coal plants in Michigan won't comply with new regulations from the EPA.

“Given the age of our coal plants, upgrading them to comply with the new EPA regulations is not economically viable. Because we are so reliant on these old coal plants, we are going to lose a significant amount of our energy supply, and it takes years to replace that capacity,” Julie says.

You can listen to our conversation with Bennett above.

Paige Pfleger

In a city like Detroit, urban art and outdoor art installments have become a way to beautify neglected spaces. The alleyway between the Z Garage, called The Belt is one of the most recent spots in Detroit to get a facelift — it has been turned into an outdoor gallery where international, national, and local urban artists have contributed murals and graffiti pieces.

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