Detroit

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Attorneys have ended final arguments in a rare trial to determine whether Detroit can become the largest municipality to fix its finances in bankruptcy court.

The daylong remarks Friday for and against a Chapter 9 reorganization now will be sorted out by Judge Steven Rhodes. He could take days to make the decision.

Well, it was quite a week for our state’s largest city. Voters elected a white mayor for the first time since 1969.

Had you gone to Lloyds of London 10 years ago and bet that within a decade, America would have a black president and Detroit a white mayor, today you would be very rich indeed.

But in the city Cadillac founded, attorneys today will offer closing arguments in a trial to determine whether the city will be allowed to file for bankruptcy. While everything in Federal Judge Steven Rhodes’ courtroom is by the book, there is an element of Kabuki-theater unreality about it all.

Nobody really believes the application will be denied. If it were, creditors would tear what remains of Detroit apart with the efficiency of a pack of wolves with a lamb.

Angelique DuLong / wikimedia commons

DETROIT (AP) — The Wayne County treasurer has given a Chicago developer a one-week deadline to come up with the remaining funds on his $2 million bid for a sprawling former Detroit car plant.

William Hults has produced $200,000 in nonrefundable deposits for the dilapidated auto factory, but has yet to produce the remaining $1.8 million.

The treasurer's office says Hults has until Nov. 15 to pay up.

Hults wants to convert the site into a commercial, residential and entertainment development.

A Texas doctor's $6 million top bid on the blighted property was thrown out last month after she missed a payment.

The No. 3 bid is from Fernando Palazuelo of Peru.

People voting
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A higher number of Detroiters voted in Tuesday’s mayoral election than their New York City counterparts, according to research from Next City.

25.4% of Detroit’s registered voters filled out a ballot on Tuesday, with Democrat Mike Duggan winning the election. In New York City, 24% of voters showed up to the polls. Democrat Bill De Blasio is now NYC’s mayor-elect.

As Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek reported, the turnout in Detroit was higher than anticipated. "Detroit city clerk Janice Winfrey had projected that less than 25% of voters would participate."

While Detroit voters edged out New Yorkers Tuesday, Next City reports that the two cities were somewhere in the middle of the pack in terms of major city election turnouts:

kellinahandbasket / Flickr

Let’s say you’ve been watching episodes of “Antiques Roadshow,” and now you’re inspired. So you want to find out what that old painting you bought at a garage sale for $5 bucks is really worth.

There’s a place in Detroit where you can do just that and get feedback from experts who are regulars on the TV show. Of course, if you’re in the mood to buy things, you’re also in luck.

Michigan Radio’s Kyle Norris tells us about DuMouchelles, an auction house in Detroit.  

Lars Plougmann / Creative Commons

Former medical center chief Mike Duggan will be the next mayor of financially troubled Detroit, beating Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon 55% to 45%. Duggan will be Detroit's first white mayor since Coleman Young was elected in 1973 as the city's first black mayor.

So, we heard from Mike Duggan and results from around the state, we looked today for some perspective on what these results mean for Michigan.

Jack Lessenberry - Michigan Radio's Political Analyst - joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Voters in Detroit go to the polls tomorrow, and no matter who gets elected to be that city's next Mayor, crime will be one of the problems they'll have to tackle. On today's show, we looked past the city's financial struggles to curbing the violence in Detroit.

 And, we found out about a "flipped school" - one of the first in the nation. Students watch lectures at night and do homework during the day in class.  And, a Grand Rapids park millage will take park funding out of the city's general fund. We spoke with one of the supports of the millage to find out why voters should consider it. Also, a Canadian photographer found beauty in the ruins of Detroit. He joined us to talk about his exhibit. 

First on the show, one of the most emotionally charged issues in Michigan in 2013 has been wolves.

After teetering on the brink of extinction, the gray wolf population has rebounded so much so that earlier this year, Governor Rick Snyder signed a law that allows a first-ever state wolf hunt in the Upper Peninsula.

That historic hunt begins November 15.

Forty-three wolves can be shot in three UP zones where officials say they have the most problems.

During the legislative debate on the wolf hunt, lawmakers from the UP spoke with passion about the "fear" their constituents had of the wolves, worrying for the safety of livestock, pets, even small children.

Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody spoke with the point man on wolves for the DNR. Adam Bump told Steve that wolves had become very accustomed to life in Ironwood.

"So you have wolves showing up in backyards, wolves showing up on porches, wolves staring at people through their sliding glass doors, while they're pounding on it, exhibiting no fear."

But an MLive investigation into the historic wolf hunt raises some serious questions about the debate, about claims made by opponents, and about the DNR's Bump.

John Barnes is reporting on this for MLive in a series called "Crying Wolf," and he joined us today.

Joy VanBuhler / Flickr

Election Day 2013 is close at hand.

And that's when Detroit voters will decide whether their next Mayor will be Mike Duggan or Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon.

The winner of the election will inherit the huge challenge of what to do about the crime rate in Detroit.

At least 386 people were murdered in the city last year, and recent FBI statistics put Detroit neck and neck with Flint for the top spot of most violent cities in America.

The high crime rate means those folks who can are getting out of these cities, which makes the economic downward spiral even worse.

What can be done? And do we really know what is driving the violence in cities like Detroit and Flint?

Michigan State University sociologist Dr. Carl Taylor joined us today from East Lansing. His new book "Third City" looks at the challenges in post-industrial Detroit and Michigan. 

Listen to the full interview above.

Philip Jarmin / Facebook

Anyone who has spent time driving around the city of Detroit has seen ruined buildings. They can be found just about everywhere within the city limits.

Among those decaying buildings can be found some of the finest examples of early 20th century architecture, the kinds of buildings that remind us that Detroit was once known as the “Paris of the Midwest.”

Canadian photographer Philip Jarmain first discovered these disintegrating beauties while he was a student at the University of Windsor. And ever since 2010, Philip Jarmain has been documenting these vanishing early 20th century buildings.

Twenty of his fine art prints were recently on exhibit at the Meridian Gallery in San Francisco, with interest in these large format architectural photographs certainly fueled by the headlines surrounding Detroit’s bankruptcy filing.

The exhibit was called American Beauty: The Opulent Pre-Depression Architecture of Detroit.

Philip Jarmain joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Specifically, the DOJ officials will be in Detroit and Hamtramck, MI; Orange County, NY; and Cuyahoga and Lorain Counties in Ohio.

In a press release, the DOJ says the monitors will ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act, "which prohibits discrimination in the election process on the basis of race, color or membership in a minority language group."

From the release:

In Cuyahoga, Lorain and Orange Counties, the Department will assign federal observers from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to monitor polling place activities based on court orders. The observers will watch and record activities during voting hours at polling locations in these jurisdictions and Civil Rights Division attorneys will coordinate the federal activities and maintain contact with local election officials.

In addition, Justice Department personnel will monitor polling place activities in Detroit and Hamtramck. Civil Rights Division attorneys will coordinate federal activities and maintain contact with local election officials.

The DOJ says federal observers are deployed every year around the country.

To file a complaint about discriminatory voting practices, the DOJ says to call the Voting Section of the department’s Civil Rights Division at 1-800-253-3931.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Detroit Public Schools is reporting a 14 percent increase in enrollment for students in grades 9-12. Overall enrollment is still down by two percent, but that's a smaller decrease than previous years.

According to numbers collected by the district on count day, nine of DPS's 19  high schools saw an increase in students.

DPS launched an enrollment campaign over the summer in an effort to meet projections included in the district's budget. Despite enrollment increases in some high schools, DPS still didn't meet those goals.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - While a judge determines the future of Detroit's bankruptcy case, key people are meeting behind the scenes to try to reach deals.

Private mediation sessions are scheduled for Wednesday, at the same time the city tries to convince a judge that Detroit is eligible to fix its debts in bankruptcy court. The trial in front of Judge Steven Rhodes started on Oct. 23.

Mercedes Mejia

This week, Zak Rosen with State of Opportunity reported on the school-to-prison pipeline. It's known to be pattern seen across the country of students being pushed out of school and into the criminal justice system.

In Rosen's report we learned about Youth Voice, a student lead community organizing group that’s working to break the school-to-prison pipeline and revise Zero Tolerance policies. Today we talk with Chanel Kitchen, a member of Youth Voice.

To learn more about Youth Voice you can visit their Facebook page here

Listen to the full interview with Chanel Kitchen, just click on the link above.

Mercedes Meija / Michigan Radio

Wheelhouse Detroit, a bike shop right next to the Renaissance Center, puts on all sorts of guided bike tours through the city — tours of churches, urban agriculture, and painted murals. But for those looking for something, well, a little more creepy, the shop also offers a haunted bike tour that takes brave riders through cemeteries, ghostly spots, and long-gone homes with a murderous past.

The ride takes you to the cozy, produce-filled confines of Eastern Market down to St. Aubin Street, which, as the tour guides will tell you, was once a hot spot for the Purple Gang, a gang of bootleggers and hijackers who ran booze from Canada to Detroit. The gang, which got its start when Michigan banned alcohol in 1917, remained active up until the early 1930s.

Photo courtesy of the Project's facebook page

Hundreds of volunteers patrolled the streets of Detroit last night and will do so again tonight.

With flashing lights on their car roofs and maps pointing out abandoned buildings, they drove slowly, looking for arsonists.

Halloween in Detroit used to mean lots of fires: some 800 buildings blazed in the mid 1990's, when Devil's Night was at its peak. 

The city became infamous for these arson sprees, with reporters flying in from as far away as Japan and Australia to cover the chaos. 

Flickr user Terry.Tyson / Flickr

 You drive around most neighborhoods these days and there is absolutely no doubt we love Halloween.

Once upon a time, you carved a pumpkin, popped in a candle and put it on your porch to greet trick or treaters.

Now, homes are decked out with giant webs and big spiders, ghouls and witches, and don't forget the lights. Halloween is now second only to Christmas for consumer spending.

Just when and where did this all begin? And how far back does Halloween go here in Michigan?

We turn to historian and contributor to the Detroit News Bill Loomis for the answers. 

Listen to the full interview above.

Detroit taxpayers foot big bill for closed schools

Oct 27, 2013
Flickr user/Dave-a-roni (Dark Spot Photography)

Detroit property owners face a quarter century of payments for construction and renovation of school buildings that no longer operate.

The Detroit Free Press says that 110 buildings covered by $2.1 billion in bond issues in 1994 and 2009 are either empty or demolished.

DETROIT (AP) - Changes in federal and state health care laws have created huge growth for Michigan's largest Medicaid HMO.

The Detroit News reports that growth at Meridian Health Plan is also benefiting Detroit and Grosse Pointe Park because of developments financed by the family that runs Meridian.

Jon Cotton is chief operating officer of Meridian Health Plan. It was founded as Health Plan of Michigan in 1997 by his parents, David and Shery Cotton.

He says the changes in health care are creating opportunities that won't be seen for another century.

DETROIT (AP) - A former car plant and symbol of Detroit's economic decline appears to have sold for just over $6 million at a tax foreclosure auction to a bidder from Texas.

The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press report that someone registered as Jill Van Horn of Ennis, Texas, put in the winning bid during Friday's online public auction for the Packard plant.

The auction opened on October 8th at $21,000. The full bid amount is due by the end of Monday.

Insurance sure is a hot political topic these days with hearings in Washington on the glitches with the HealthCare.gov website, and the recent fight in the Legislature over the Medicaid expansion. So what better moment to re-kindle the controversy over Michigan’s auto insurance rates and the no-fault law?

Which is exactly what Governor Rick Snyder did this week when he re-started talks among the groups with an interest in an overhaul of the law. That includes doctors and hospitals, insurance companies, and trial lawyers – all major political players in Lansing.

And, certainly, people who’ve been injured in car and truck accidents have a big stake.

Auto insurance is intensely political. (So much so that some states even have elected insurance commissioners.) Pretty much everyone runs the risk of being hurt in a crash, and everyone who owns a vehicle - under Michigan’s no-fault insurance law - is supposed to carry liability coverage.

People are always upset by insurance rates, but none more so than people who live in cities with high premiums. Cities like Detroit and Flint.  Insurance rates actually affect elections. Some city dwellers use out-of-town addresses on their driver’s licenses and voter registration to get lower rates, which also means they don’t vote in local elections.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Every time we see still another story about school violence, we ask the same question: why wasn’t anyone able to stop it?

With still more school violence in the news this week, three Michigan school districts are splitting a $2 million grant to spot and treat mental illness in students.

Saginaw, Houghton Lake and Detroit’s Education Achievement Authority are getting this aid specifically because they're struggling with student mental health or safety issues, according to state and local data.

Bridge card users could soon be unable to get cash out of ATMs inside strip clubs, some liquor stores, and casinos.  That's the idea behind a package of bills the state Senate passed today. 

Bridge cards are mostly associated with food assistance, but they also let families with kids get temporary cash assistance for things like child care and rent. 

So what happens if you live in a rural or urban area where the only ATM is in a liquor store? 

That's what state Sen. Morris Hood (D-Detroit) says he's worried about. 

Patricia Drury / Flickr

As part of Michigan Radio’s State of Opportunity project, the station is partnering with the Detroit Free Press, The Center for Michigan, and WDET to host community conversations with Detroit residents.

The goal is to hear from Detroiters about what they see happening in their city, and what would make it a place where they can build a future.

Michigan Radio’s All Things Considered host Jenn White will be hosting one of the conversations this Thursday evening.

Listen to the full interview above.

User: Fabienne Kneifel/Flickr

The city of Detroit remains immersed in a time of massive change. Ongoing bankruptcy proceedings, an approaching mayoral election, and the possibility of an auction of Detroit Institute of Arts masterpieces are on people's minds.

Joining us today is Stephen Henderson, editorial page editor for the Detroit Free Press.

As part of our State of Opportunity project, Michigan Radio has partnered with the Detroit Free Press, The Center for Michigan, and WDET to host three community conversations with Detroit residents in three different locations in Detroit this Thursday. The goal is to talk with resident about what they see happening in the city and what would make Detroit a place where they feel they can build a future. 

If you’re a resident of Detroit and would like to participate in one of the community conversations this Thursday, October 24th at 6:00 pm you can a reserve spot at one of three Detroit locations. Stephen Henderson will be at the Northwest Activities Center, Craig Fahle with WDET will be at the Northeast Guidance Center, and Jennifer White be at El Nacimiento in Southwest Detroit. 

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

This past weekend, more than 2,000 people in Detroit attended the annual, one-night-only masquerade called Theatre Bizarre.

The event transforms the city’s Masonic Temple into a dream world of S&M, punk rock, grandmothers in leather and carnival sideshows.

Detroit cancels bus runs Monday, cites `sick out'

Oct 20, 2013
Sarah Hulett

Operators of Detroit's public buses say riders may have to find another way to get around Monday because of what officials say is a threatened "sick-out" protest by unionized drivers.

The union says it isn't behind the job action and can't do anything if drivers call in sick.

A recording on the Detroit Department of Transportation's phone line Sunday evening says that the union has "scheduled a sick out Monday" and "bus service will not be in operation."

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Convincing executives that Detroit is a comeback city where they should hold meetings and conventions can only be characterized as the most monumental of pitches or the slickest of con jobs.

Convention and visitors bureau marketing chief Bill Bohde says they are plowing forward with a $1.6 million campaign touting it as a great comeback city even after Detroit became the largest U.S. city to seek bankruptcy protection.

USFWSmidwest / Flickr

Construction for the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge’s new visitor center has been delayed, due to the ongoing partial federal government shutdown.

As the Associated Press’s David Runk reported, construction for the refuge’s 12,000 square foot center was slated to begin Wednesday, but the temporary hold on federal funds postponed the project.

So what can we do?

Oct 16, 2013

Last night I spoke to a group in Northville, a pleasant and mostly affluent little town that straddles Wayne and Oakland Counties. Northville is about 30 miles and thirty light years from Detroit, but my audience wanted to know about the city. Wanted to know how Detroit got in the mess it is in, and what was going to happen next.

They all seemed to hope the city would come back, that someday it would be prosperous again. When I asked, I found that perhaps eighty percent used to live in Detroit; only one does now, which was one more than I expected.

They were people with varying opinions, but with good will. Besides Detroit, they were interested in the dysfunctionality and corruption of Wayne County government. I gave them as much information about the facts as I could.

But then one person, and then another, and another, asked me questions I couldn’t answer, questions along the lines of:  What can we do? What can we do about all this? How do we fix it? What can ordinary people, do?

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The first of 1,600 homes in Flint fell to a backhoe today.

The Genesee County Land Bank and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority are using a $20.1 million federal grant to pay for the largest blighted home demolition program in Flint’s history.

The program is expected to eliminate a quarter of Flint’s 5,600 abandoned homes. 

Flint Mayor Dayne Walling says tearing down a derelict home has a positive effect on the surrounding neighborhood. 

“When dangerous houses come down, surrounding property values stabilize.  Safety increases,’ says Walling.

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