Detroit

Investigative
4:40 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

Detroit sells $1 million worth of vacant homes

One of the many houses put up for auction by the Detroit Land Bank.
Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The city of Detroit says it’s sold $1 million dollars worth of vacant homes that will be fixed up and occupied. Nearly 70 auctioned properties have been sold.

These are purchase commitments from bidders, not cash in hand, but reaching the million-dollar mark gives Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and the Detroit Land Bank some bragging rights.

Of the 16,000 properties the city owns, 2,000 are salvageable. At an open house of properties to be auctioned last month, Mayor Duggan said the city would start putting up two houses a day for auction.

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Investigative
7:00 am
Thu June 26, 2014

You won't believe how much less Detroit will spend on streetlights

Dave Martin wiring one of the thousands of LED streetlights being installed in Detroit neighborhoods.
Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

This week the Detroit Journalism Cooperative is looking at how the city of Detroit is functioning under bankruptcy. Until recently, almost half the streetlights of Detroit were dark. Thousands of new streetlights are replacing the old broken ones.

I caught up with one of several crews installing streetlights in neighborhoods around Detroit. James England is the foreman.

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Newsmaker Interview
4:44 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

Detroit will continue to face major challenges even after bankruptcy

Credit Bob Jagendorf / Flickr

    

As the city of Detroit swiftly works its way through bankruptcy court there are some bright spots on the horizon. The state of Michigan, foundations and corporations are contributing millions of dollars to shore up city pensions and protect art held by the Detroit Institute of Arts. Mayor Mike Duggan is making strides to alleviate blight across the city. However, even in a best case scenario, what issues and challenges will the city continue to face even after the bankruptcy proceedings conclude?

Jennifer White, host of All Things Considered, speaks with Michigan State University Economist Eric Scorsone about the challenges facing the city of Detroit and the key systemic issues that the city must address.

Scorsone emphasizes that although there has been some recovery in the city, the challenges of the high unemployment rate, the big differences in the Detroit labor market when it comes to earnings of city residents compared to non-residents, upgrading the skill levels of city residents and the creation of jobs are issues that no one individual will be able to resolve alone, and will require cooperation from many agencies and non-profit organizations.

According to Scorsone, blight removal is an important step, but it is not necessarily the final solution. There needs to be major changes when it comes to land designated for certain uses such as housing, and stabilizing certain neighborhoods is imperative to the city’s future health. 

Listen to the full interview above.

--Omar Saadeh

Investigative
7:00 am
Mon June 23, 2014

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan not like past mayors

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan
Lester Graham Michigan Radio

This week Michigan Radio and our media partners in the Detroit Journalism Cooperative are looking at how the city is functioning under bankruptcy and the leadership of Mayor Mike Duggan.

At the beginning of the year, Mayor Duggan said to watch what happens in six months. We’ll review the changes throughout this week, but we thought we’d start with a look at the mayor himself.

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Families & Community
5:00 am
Mon June 23, 2014

"Take on Hate" campaign targets anti-Arab prejudice in Detroit

Credit www.accesscommunity.org

Earlier this month there was the annual anti-Islam rally in Dearborn (although more cops than actual protestors showed up.) 

A few days before that, police investigated the burning of several Qurans outside a local Mosque. 

 And in February, an Arab-American man won more than $1 million dollars in a lawsuit over the religious and racial harassment he said he suffered at work.  

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Opinion
10:09 am
Fri June 20, 2014

State Rep. Rudy Hobbs says he may be the underdog, but he's not going to lose the primary

Yesterday, I talked about Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence, who is in a tight race to win the Democratic primary in Michigan’s wildly gerrymandered 14th Congressional District, which stretches from the affluent Grosse Pointes, through the worst parts of Detroit, through Oakland County suburbs.

Most polls say the front runner is either Lawrence or former Congressman Hansen Clarke, who lost the primary here two years ago.

Clarke dropped out of sight after losing to Gary Peters, who is now moving on to run for the Senate. But, he resurfaced at the last moment this year to try to reclaim a congressional seat.

Surveys show a tight contest between Clarke and Lawrence, but virtually all the big endorsements have gone to a third candidate young enough to be their son.

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Families & Community
7:45 am
Wed June 18, 2014

Detroit groups get Head Start funds in wake of DPS blunder

A federal pilot program will fund more than 1,000 additional Head Start spots in Detroit and additional services for those families and children.
Credit Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

A group of organizations in Detroit announced that today they got official word they'll be sharing around $50 million in federal funds over the course of five years for early childhood education programs.

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Education
8:07 pm
Mon June 16, 2014

The guy with one of Detroit's toughest jobs is resigning

EAA Chancellor John Covington has resigned.
Credit The Broad Superintendents Academy

Let's do this MEAP style. Choose one of the following.

John Covington is:

A) an education visionary, brought in to turn around some of Detroit's worst schools using a model that lets kids learn at their own level, regardless of age or grade;

B) an overpaid, underperforming puppet of a state takeover of Detroit's schools;

C) It just depends on whom you ask. 

Right or wrong, the chancellor of the Education Achievement Authority is stepping down. 

Hired to fix Detroit's failing schools, amidst political turmoil 

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Politics & Government
5:16 pm
Sat June 14, 2014

Detroit announces settlement with largest union

Terms of the bondholder deal also weren't released. Mediators say details "are in the final documentation process" and that the creditors are companies that either hold or insure a large majority of limited-tax general obligation bonds.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Detroit has announced settlements with its largest union and a group of unsecured bondholders.

Mediators said Friday the bankrupt city completed a series of tentative agreements with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 25.

In a statement, AFSCME Council 25 President Al Garrett says the deals represent "the best path forward for city employees and retirees."

The Detroit Free Press reports that terms of the union agreements weren't released.

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Opinion
10:16 am
Fri June 13, 2014

Detroit pulled off a miracle during WWII; can it do the same thing today?

For months, we’ve been embroiled in Detroit’s bankruptcy and attempts to save what there is worth saving.

It is hard to pick up any national publication without finding stories about Detroit, few of them good. There are a spate of new book titles too, which mostly chronicle the city’s decline and fall.

Yet I’ve just been reading an utterly fascinating and inspiring new book about a time when Detroit really did save, or at least help save, the world.

The book, just published by Houghton Mifflin, is The Arsenal of Democracy: FDR, Ford Motor Company, and Their Epic Quest to Arm an America at War.

This is a book with characters larger and more bizarre than life. It tells the story of a Detroit-based triumph that the experts said was impossible. And every word in it is true.

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Stateside
6:35 pm
Wed June 11, 2014

Detroit Public Schools misses out on $4 million in Head Start funds

Credit Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

When you are a school district where more than 80% of your students live in poverty, every penny that helps those students is critical.

And that's why there has been a collective gasp of disbelief, even anger, with the news that Detroit Public Schools has lost $4 million in Head Start funding.

The reason DPS lost the money is because they missed the application deadline.

A school spokesperson blamed a technical problem in uploading the application.

Detroit Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley joined us on our show.

*Listen to our conversation with Rochelle above.

Stateside
9:39 pm
Mon June 9, 2014

Midtown Detroit alleys are getting a makeover

Credit Green Alley Project

When you close your eyes and think of an alley, what do you see?

Trash? Junky cars? A place where danger lurks?

Or do you see a place where people might stroll? Perhaps car-free? Certainly cleaned up.

That's what Sue Mosey sees.

She's president of Midtown Detroit, Inc., a nonprofit community-development group that is working to transform gritty urban alleys in Midtown Detroit into something that is green, something you would want to walk through, and something that helps with urban revitalization.

Mosey said the alleys in Midtown Detroit were in very bad condition, some even collapsing. Mosey said the group worked with the Department of Public works to help with underground repairs.

“Since we are going to have to redo them anyway, we figured why not make them green and sustainable and beautiful,” Mosey said.

They repave, rebuild, and add lighting to the alleys, as well as other projects to make them more attractive and safe for the city.

“It’s an opportunity to reuse something that is usually seen more as a negative and create something unexpected and really positive and people really respond to that,” Mosey said. 

*Listen to full interview above. 

Politics & Government
3:20 pm
Mon June 9, 2014

Nation's automakers pitch in $26 million to Detroit's bankruptcy reorganization

Reid Bigland of Chrysler speaks at the media event announcing that U.S. automakers will contribute to the 'grand bargain.' Bigland is standing in front of one of the famous Diego River murals at the DIA.
Credit Reem Nasr / Michigan Radio

It seems momentum behind Detroit's municipal bankruptcy reorganization continues to build. If the momentum continues, the city could emerge from bankruptcy this fall.

Today, General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler pledged to contribute a combined $26 million to a deal aimed at reducing cuts to Detroit pensioners while preserving the art collection at the Detroit Institute of Arts (part of the collection has been talked about as a city asset that could be sold to satisfy Detroit's creditors).

The money from the automakers will go into large pot of money – more than $800 million – collectively known as the "grand bargain."

So far, money for the grand bargain is coming from private philanthropists, foundations, the state of Michigan, and money raised by the DIA itself. The automakers' money will be counted toward the DIA's goal of $100 million.

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Arts & Culture
12:48 pm
Sat June 7, 2014

Don Davis, musician, producer and composer, dies

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said in a statement Friday that Davis was "the epitome of Detroit's can-do spirit."
Credit blackenterprise.com

DETROIT (AP) - A family spokeswoman says Don Davis, a longtime Detroit musician, composer and recording executive, has died at 75.

Lisa Wilmore said Davis died Thursday in Michigan after a brief illness. She declined to say where he died.

Davis was a session musician during the 1960s at Motown Records in Detroit. He then went to work for Memphis, Tennessee-based Stax Records. He also started the independent Groovesville label.

He was a co-writer and co-producer of "Who's Making Love," a 1968 Stax hit for Johnnie Taylor.

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Transportation
10:51 pm
Fri June 6, 2014

No wheels in the Motor City? New website seeks to help

Credit Shawn Wilson / Wikimedia Commons

In spite of its nickname, the Motor City has well-known transportation problems.

A large proportion of Detroiters don't own cars, and buses are notoriously late and overcrowded.

Now, residents have a new option.

It's a website based on a platform used at colleges, called detroit.ridepost.com.

Debra Rowe heads the Detroit Green Skills Alliance, which works on sustainability issues.

She convinced the person who created the platform to donate it, and says it will be useful for all kinds of people.

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Education
9:06 am
Thu June 5, 2014

Detroit high school for pregnant teens is closing – this time, for real

The Catherine Ferguson Academy serves pregnant and parenting moms in high school.
Credit Catherine Ferguson Academy

It's kind of heartbreaking. 

The Catherine Ferguson Academy in Detroit is closing at the end of this month, due to low enrollment and financial trouble.

That's the announcement from the Wayne RESA, the intermediate school district that held the school's charter, and the whole thing feels like deja vu.

A beloved school repeatedly finds itself on brink of closure    

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Law
1:59 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

Second chance for a clean record in "teen court"

A teen court program in Detroit works to keep kids out of the juvenile justice system.
Credit Jennifer Guerra

For a kid caught stealing a $30 bracelet from a store,  juvenile court would likely be the next stop.

But a "teen court" program in Detroit gives some teenagers a chance to avoid the juvenile justice system. It's one of about 1,000 programs across the country.

The teen court model still doles out consequences for kids who break the law, but the idea behind it is less about punishment and more about getting kids on the right path. Teenagers are involved in every aspect of the program. They are "lawyers" and "jury members," not just defendants.

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Arts & Culture
4:34 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

Literary map sees Detroit through the eyes of writers

Credit Peter Martorano / Flickr

The Literary Map of Detroit is not your typical, predictable map of the Motor City. It looks at Detroit through the eyes of writers, poets and storytellers.

The map is actually a website, with locations that are mentioned in literary works by Detroit authors.

Frank Rashid, an English professor at Marygrove college and lifelong Detroiter, created the map.

Rashid created the map to challenge the belief that Detroit’s economic and social problems stem from one simple cause, such as a politician or Detroiters themselves, by providing works from writers that provide an inside look of the city and its history. The literature of Detroit, in combination with economic and historical studies, can help understand the where the issues originate.

Rashid said the map differs from the  superficial treatment of the city in some current literature. He hopes to inspire viewers to see and think about Detroit in a new way.

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Politics & Culture
4:22 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

Stateside for Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

  Once the United Auto Workers boasted a formidable membership with more than one and half million members. Today: that number is drastically smaller, almost three-fourths smaller, with 390-thousand members.

Much has been written about whether or not the UAW is dead.

But, on today's Stateside, we asked, with such dwindling numbers does it really matter? And, to whom?

There is still ice on Lake Superior in the beginning of June. What is the cause?

A literary map of Detroit as seen through the eyes of writers, author’s and storytellers provides insight of Detroit’s history.

Also, want a free house? Well, if you're a writer, and ready to move to Detroit, you might just be in luck.

But, first on Stateside…

Michigan’s roads are crumbling and people want them fixed. Some estimates say it could cost almost 2 billion dollars a year to fix them.

State lawmakers are in the midst of considering raising revenue through higher taxes on gas and that has raised a lot of debate around what we already pay at the pump.

Michigan Radio’s Mark Brush set out to sort this out for all of us. 

*Listen to full show above. 

Economy
1:49 pm
Thu May 29, 2014

Here are a couple ways to understand and visualize blight in Detroit

According to the new report by the Detroit Blight Removal Task Force's report, 22% of the properties they looked at were blighted.
Credit Stephen Harlan / Flickr

new report from the Blight Removal Task Force says that there's a lot of buildings that need to be eliminated in Detroit.

Yesterday, Kai Ryssdal of Marketplace interviewed Erica Gerson.

She's the chair of Detroit's Land Bank Authority. The organization deals with identified blight in the city and makes buildings usable again.

Listen to their conversation here:

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