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Detroit

Brian Turner / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

It's called "pay or stay:" jailing people who can't afford to pay a fine.

It's a controversial issue nationwide. Critics say pay or stay sentencing has created a 21st-century version of debtors' prisons.

In May of 2016, the Michigan Supreme Court announced rule changes designed to keep people out of jail just because they cannot pay court fines. But a Bridge Magazine investigation finds that's exactly what's happening in the weekly collections docket at the 36th District Court in Detroit.

Spartan stadium
Flickr/Ken Lund / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Three Michigan State University football players have been charged with sexual assault stemming from an incident in January in which they allegedly sexually assaulted a woman on campus. 

Morning Edition host Doug Tribou and senior political analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss the this case and others, including former Olympic gymnastics and MSU sports doctor Larry Nassar.

The attack occurred just outside this service center, that serves many of the area's homeless and mentally ill in Detroit's Eastern Market.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Some Detroit activists and community members are outraged by what they see as a low-key response to an attack on a homeless man last week, one that seems to have been at least partly racially motivated.

According to the victim and witnesses, a white man suddenly beat and stabbed the homeless man, who is black, in Detroit’s busy Eastern Market district. They also said the attacker shouted racial slurs as he did it.

The mid-day attack happened outside the Team Wellness Center, which serves many homeless and mentally ill people in the area.

Person on bicycle riding in an urban area.
Thomas Hawk / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Tomorrow marks the anniversary of the crash in Kalamazoo County that left five bicyclists dead and four others seriously injured. The riders were all members of the Chain Gang, a group that organizes weekly rides in and around Kalamazoo. 

grill
Mike / Flickr - http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

City officials are cooling the coals on front porch grilling in Detroit.

The Detroit News reports that the City Council has updated its outdoor fire code to ban outdoor cooking under a roof or an enclosed area.

The ordinance was approved last month and aims to prevent accidental fires when grills tip over or flames lick too close to homes.

John Sims has organized the "Burn and Bury Memorial: Detroit 2017" event where the Confederate Flag will be burned and buried.
Courtesy of John Sims

It’s Memorial Day on Monday. Some Michiganders will be visiting cemeteries, others will attend parades, and many will be lighting up the grill.

One person will be burning flags.

Not the United States flag. The flag that’s often a symbol of the Confederacy, the Stars and Bars Confederate battle flag.

two men sit at a desk
Detroit Public Television / YouTube

Crime is down in Detroit, but the homicide rate in the city is still high. For all the talk about Chicago's murder rate, Detroit's per capita rate is higher.

One of the newest efforts to deal with the violence is an intervention initiative called D-LIVE, which stands for "Detroit Life Is Valuable Everyday." The program treats violent crime as a health care issue and goes into the hospital to talk to gunshot victims. 

exterior of the Packard Plant
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The last Packard automobile rolled off the assembly line in Detroit on June 25, 1956. After that, it was used in various ways, but for years the sprawling automobile plant – about 3.5 million square feet –  has sat empty and deteriorating. 

Three years ago, Spanish-born developer Fernando Palazuelo, currently living in Peru, offered hope of a future for the Packard Plant. But we didn't hear much else.

This week, Palazeulo was back in Detroit to finally announce the first phase of development of the Packard Plant.

Photograph of Downtown Detroit
Ifmuth / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Detroit is cracking down on those who owe back income taxes by launching an effort targeting thousands of potential tax evaders living or working at certain properties in downtown and Midtown.

Detroit corporation counsel Melvin Butch Hollowell tells the Detroit Free Press the city identified at least 7,000 potential tax evaders at 33 properties, which include the Penobscot Building, Cadillac Square Apartments and Broderick Tower.

Michigan still has one of the highest rates of juvenile lifers in the country.
Thomas Hawk / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A Senate subcommittee has passed a budget cutting the Department of Corrections' budget by $40 million. The department says that would mean cutting jobs and programs to fight recidivism. Both Republicans and Democrats want to see lower prison populations.

Morning Edition host Doug Tribou and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss whether this plan could get bi-partisan support.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The clock is ticking on homeowners in Wayne County who received tax foreclosure notices. They have until June 7 to either pay their taxes or sign up for a payment plan.

The Detroit Q-Line streetcar
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

The QLINE streetcar in Detroit officially launched service today. The QLINE runs along Woodward Avenue for 3.3 miles, basically connecting Midtown and Downtown.

Matt Cullen, CEO of the QLINE streetcar service, joined Stateside to talk about the launch and what expectations are for public transportation in Metro Detroit. 

Mural painted on a wall
wilansky / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

 

In Detroit, there are all kinds of artists and art projects happening organically. But, the City of Detroit doesn’t really have a vehicle to encourage or develop an arts culture.

Mercedes Mejia/Michigan Radio

Escape rooms keep gaining popularity. 

You might have heard of them. The interactive game where you and a bunch of friends, or complete strangers, are locked in a room and have to solve a series of puzzles to get out -- oh, and you only have about an hour.  

The scenarios are endless. Think Sherlock Holmes, Indiana Jones or Jail Break. 

Patton Doyle is the co-founder of Decode Detroit, an escape room with a tech vibe located in Ann Arbor.

The old Hudson's Deparment Store site in Detroit
girl-in-the-d / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

 

Republicans and Democrats in Lansing support a big incentive package that big developers in the state want. 

These incentives not only include money for cleaning up polluted “brownfield” sites, but also income tax kickbacks from the workers who build the development, and from the tax revenue of the development.

Car accident
Daniel X. O'Neil/Flickr / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

If you’re a driver in Michigan, it's not exactly breaking news to hear that our auto insurance rates are some of the highest in the country. Drivers in Detroit pay the most. One study estimated an average of $3,400 annually. By comparison, the national average is about $900.

Mayor Mike Duggan announcing plans for Midtown west development project at Delta Prep Academy in Detroit
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

A new development project is coming to Detroit's Cass Corridor.

Midtown West will be a $77 million development project that will be located at what was once the Wigle Recreation Center near Midtown.

It will include a total of 335 residential units, 175 rental units and 160 units for sale. About 20% of those rental units will be affordable housing.

Councilwoman Raquel Castaneda Lopez represents the district where the project will be.

She says it’s important that development be done with and for the people.

Tommy and Raymond Highers served 26 years in prison for a crime they didn't commit.
Joe Linstroth / Michigan Radio

"It was an out-of-body experience."

That's how Raymond Highers described the moment when the judge sentenced him and his brother Tommy Highers to life without parole for a murder they didn't commit.

Book cover: "The Intersection: What Detroit has gained, and lost, 50 years after the uprisings of 1967."
Courtesy of Lester Graham

 

This year marks 50 years since the 1967 uprising in Detroit. A new book reflects on what's happened since those hot, angry four days in July. 

Detroit Public Schools Community District sign
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Detroit Public Schools Community District school board has chosen Nikolai Vitti as its first permanent superintendent. Vitti grew up in Dearborn Heights and is currently the superintendent in Duval County, Florida.

Michigan Radio Morning Edition host Doug Tribou and Senior News Analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss what the district's new pick means for Detroit schools. 

DPROVOST ~ PROSPER IN 2011 / FLICKR HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Poor air quality in Detroit is putting people into the hospital, and even killing some. It's making them sick and unable to go to work or school.

That's not opinion. That's a fact with scientific data to back it up.

Screenshot of Detroit website allowing residents to see locations of medical marijuana caregiver centers.
Detroitmi.gov

Medical marijuana users have a new way to learn about caregiver centers in Detroit.

An interactive map will help them track the status of the more than 280 centers across the city.

120 shops are in the application process. Over 60 of them are able to operate in the meantime.

Marvin Jamo, owner of a medical marijuana caregiver center in Detroit, says plenty of people use medical marijuana.

Meet the city of Detroit's Chief Storyteller: Aaron Foley
City of Detroit

One of the most primal human experiences is storytelling. And now that ancient tradition is coming to Detroit City Hall.

Mayor Mike Duggan's team has a new member: Aaron Foley now holds the title of Detroit's Chief Storyteller.
Aaron's been a journalist at MLive, Ward's Automotive, and for the past year and a half, the editor of BLAC Detroit magazine, covering black life, arts and culture.

Foley tells Stateside leaving BLAC was difficult, but says he couldn't pass up the challenge of starting a project like this from the ground up.

"You have this project in multiple forms, where we go across the city, talk to residents, talk to neighbors, talk to people about what they'd like to see in their neighborhoods," Foley said.

"Also, to talk to them about what's coming to their neighborhoods. There's a big push to make sure that everyone is included in whatever goes on in any neighborhood, whether it's a tree coming down, or a new housing development ... and this is just taking that an extra step forward."

According to Foley, one of the goals of this project is to bring people from different parts of the city together and to create more of an awareness of citizens' own neighborhoods. 

The Tesla Model S, first introduced in June 2012
Tesla Motors

Here’s the latest Detroit indignity: Tiny Tesla, the electric automaker, is felling giants.

The Silicon Valley startup created in 2003 is worth more in market value than the American industrial icon founded exactly 100 years earlier by Henry Ford, the premier innovator of his time.

Tesla’s not far behind General Motors, either. The promise of game-changing innovation, the hope that someone new can crack the emissions-free code is causing tons of smart money to flow into Chairman Elon Musk’s Tesla.

Nearly $49 billion-worth, to be precise.

Demolition
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

The city of Detroit has approved a new contract with the same company that left 19 demolition sites unfinished for more than 8 months. That work was part of the city's blight removal program, which is currently under federal investigation.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan speaking where he plans to build Ella Fitzgerald Park on the city's northwest side
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan says neighborhoods won't be left out of the city's comeback.

Duggan announced his two year plan to invest $4 million into the Fitzgerald neighborhood on the city's northwest side, near Livernois and McNichols.

The project aims to rehab 115 vacant homes and 192 vacant lots, create a two-acre park, and build a bike path between Marygrove College and the University of Detroit Mercy.

Maurice Cox, the planning director for the project, says the goal is to create something seldom seen in the city.

BRIDGE MAGAZINE: One promise Mike Duggan can’t keep?

Mar 30, 2017

Home sales with mortgages are rare in Detroit, occurring in just a few areas. Use the slider in the middle of the image below to see where the cash sales (red) are compared with sales via mortgages (blue).

for the map/Bridge map by Mike Wilkinson:

Few mortgages in Detroit

Most home sales in Detroit require cash; only 19 percent of the 3,800 sales in 2016 involved a mortgage, reflecting the difficulty to secure loans in a city where property values are less than half what they were a decade ago. Click on a marker to get more information, including price and year the home was built.

Source: RealComp II

If Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan is to be taken at his word, perhaps he shouldn’t be running for re-election this year.

Alex Porbe / Incite Design

There are people in Michigan who are quietly making pieces of art with a purpose beyond art. 

One of them works in Detroit at a nondescript shop on Mack Avenue. Alex Porbe is with Incite Design, a  fabrication and custom design firm.

Porbe works with architects and project managers, working up designs to complement existing architecture or making a design statement.

Rich Evenhouse / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

How do we talk about Detroit?

In the 80's and 90's, the focus was on crime and urban decay. Detroit was the "Murder City." Today, the narrative is one of possibility and resurgence.

But both of those depictions were largely imposed by outsiders, and were, at best, incomplete.

 "My grandmother always told me I was smart, and so I believed it. And so by the time she left, being smart and doing good in school was something that Shawn just did," Blanchard told us.
Courtesy of Shawn Blanchard

 


If anyone seemed destined for a life that would either end in a drug deal gone bad or in prison, it would probably be Shawn Blanchard.

Everything in his life pointed him down that path, beginning with the fact that he was born with crack cocaine in his system.

Instead, Blanchard is a graduate of the University of Michigan, where he majored in math and economics. He’s also a graduate of Wayne State University’s Law School.

His memoir is titled How ‘Bout That for a 'Crack Baby.'

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