Detroit

Business
2:18 pm
Thu August 22, 2013

Wayne County plans to sell Packard Plant

Detroit's historic Packard Plant hasn't been in use regularly since the 1950s.
Credit Julia Field / Michigan Radio

Wayne County officials hope to close a deal to sell Detroit's historic Packard Plant next week. County officials say they've been in talks for over a year with Chicago-area developer Bill Hults to buy the property.

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Stateside
5:53 pm
Wed August 21, 2013

Controversy surrounds the results of Detroit's mayoral primary

Jocelyn Benson, dean of the Wayne State University Law School.
Photograph courtesy of the votebenson.com website

An interview with Jocelyn Benson, interim dean of Wayne State University's law school.

As you've likely heard by now, a state election panel will have to decide the official outcome of Detroit's mayoral primary. That's because Wayne County's election board refused to certify the election. It should be noted that the county election board acted on the very last day before the deadline to certify the election.

The controversy centers on some 20,000 write-in votes that may have been incorrectly marked by Detroit poll workers.

Former Detroit Medical Center CEO Mike Duggan appeared to win the primary handily over Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon.

Despite running as a write-in candidate, Duggan won by about 16 points, according to unofficial results.

But if these almost 20,000 write-in votes get thrown out, the two winners would switch places, with  Napoleon coming out on top, and former Detroit Medical Center Mike Duggan finishing second.

Whatever the outcome, Duggan and Napoleon will face off in November.

But this drama raises many concerns, including the ability of Detroit poll workers to do their jobs properly, whether there needs to be a recount, and whether---as suggested by Benny Napoleon--the U.S. Department of Justice needs to babysit the big November election.

Jocelyn Benson, interim dean of Wayne State University's law school and an expert in Michigan's constitutional and election law, joined us today to help us sort this all out.

Listen to the full interview above.

Stateside
5:44 pm
Wed August 21, 2013

What's the view of Detroit from 'Up North?'

user: jodelli Flickr

An interview with Ken Winter and Jack Lessenberry.

In the five weeks since Detroit filed for bankruptcy, there has been much conversation, much reporting, much editorializing.

What does it mean? Who will be affected? How can Detroit turn itself around? A lot of opinions, and a lot of views.

One view we have not gotten yet on Stateside is the view of the Detroit bankruptcy from "Up North."

That's something we remedied today as we welcomed Ken Winter, former editor and publisher of the Petoskey News-Review and member of the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame.

And, freshly returned from his trip to the Upper Peninsula, where he was able to get an up-close take on the UP's view of Detroit, Michigan Radio's political analyst Jack Lessenberry also joined the discussion.

Listen to the full interview above.

Politics & Culture
5:39 pm
Wed August 21, 2013

Stateside for Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

On today’s show we explored the differences residents in the UP have as compared with "trolls," you know, residents under the Mackinac Bridge.

How do perspectives about our state change depending on where we live?

And, we got the story behind Banner Gibson guitars in Kalamazoo and the women who made them.

Also, the UP’s own poet laureate joined us to talk about the rise in regional poet laureates, as well as what that honor means to him.

First on the show, as you've likely heard by now, a state election panel will have to decide the official outcome of Detroit's mayoral primary. That's because Wayne County's election board refused to certify the election. It should be noted that the county election board acted on the very last day before the deadline to certify the election.

The controversy centers on some 20,000 write-in votes that may have been incorrectly marked by Detroit poll workers.

Former Detroit Medical Center CEO Mike Duggan appeared to win the primary handily over Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon.

Despite running as a write-in candidate, Duggan won by about 16 points, according to unofficial results.

But if these almost 20,000 write-in votes get thrown out, the two winners would switch places, with  Napoleon coming out on top, and former Detroit Medical Center Mike Duggan finishing second.

Whatever the outcome, Duggan and Napoleon will face off in November.

But this drama raises many concerns, including the ability of Detroit poll workers to do their jobs properly, whether there needs to be a recount, and whether---as suggested by Benny Napoleon--the U.S. Department of Justice needs to babysit the big November election.

Jocelyn Benson, interim dean of Wayne State University's law school and an expert in Michigan's constitutional and election law, joined us today to help us sort this all out.

Economy
1:18 pm
Wed August 21, 2013

New 'Pure Michigan' ad about Detroit features a lot of...fountains

A screen grab of the DIA in the Detroit Pure Michigan ad
Pure Michigan

There's a new Pure Michigan ad about Detroit. 

Released on August 19, the 32-second video features classic images of Detroit through a soft, fuzzy lens.

An evening row on the river, a sunny afternoon at the Detroit Institute of Arts, and a fresh array of fruit and veggies at Eastern Market create a picturesque montage of the city.

Also, there's an unusually large number of fountains. Here's what we see in 32 seconds:

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Stateside
5:31 pm
Tue August 20, 2013

Creditors, unions, and retirees file formal complaints against Detroit's bankruptcy eligibility

Peter Martorano Flickr

An interview with Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek.

Does Detroit qualify for bankruptcy protection? That’s the question Judge Stephen Rhodes of federal bankruptcy court will have to decide later this fall. Monday was the last day for creditors, unions and retirees to file formal challenges to Detroit’s eligibility for bankruptcy protection.

Now that the eligibility objection deadline has come and gone, we wanted to get an idea who objected, why, and what happens next.

Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek joined us today from Detroit.

Listen to the full interview above.

Stateside
4:49 pm
Tue August 20, 2013

Kevyn Orr requests formal appraisal of the DIA's collection

Flickr

An interview with Detroit Free Press staff writer Mark Stryker.

The eyes of the art world are trained on Woodward Avenue in Detroit, on the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Christie's Auction House is formally appraising the city-owned works at the DIA at the request of emergency manager Kevyn Orr.

The very hint of the idea that pieces in the DIA collection could be sold off to satisfy Detroit's creditors has had the impact of a tsunami in the art world.

The DIA says the collection doesn't belong to the city, it belongs to the public, and thus, is protected by a public trust. These are all questions federal judge Steven Rhodes will eventually decide.

So now, with this appraisal, there's this for the art world and art patrons to consider: when Christie's delivers its report to Orr, it will be the first time the public gets an idea of the market value of thousands of pieces of art at a world-class museum.

Detroit Free Press staff writer Mark Stryker recently wrote an article about the appraisals, and he joined us today to talk about what this means for the DIA, the city of Detroit, and for the art world.

Listen to the full interview above.

Politics & Government
12:30 pm
Tue August 20, 2013

Five Michigan cities are getting federal funding to demolish blighted homes

An abandoned home in Flint (file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The city of Detroit is getting $52.3 million to deal with its blight problem.

Several other Michigan cities are also getting money to tear down abandoned homes and clean up other vacant buildings.

In June, the U.S.Treasury Department approved $100 million dollars to help several Michigan cities deal with blight. 

In addition to the money going to Detroit, the governor’s office announced today that the city of Flint will receive $20.1 million. Saginaw, Grand Rapids and Pontiac will also receive some money from the federal government’s Hardest Hit fund.

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Stateside
5:34 pm
Mon August 19, 2013

Why the Detroit Public School bond offering is worth a look to investors

O.k., o.k., we know this one is empty, but some high school students in the Detroit Public Schools say their classroom are far from empty.
User Motown31 Creative Commons

An interview with Josh Gonze of Thornberg Investment Management.

So, investors, who's willing to bite? Who is willing to buy bonds from a troubled school district being run by an emergency manager located in a city run by an emergency manager, a city that just made history with its bankruptcy filing?

It's easy to understand why investors may run the other way from the Detroit Public Schools' bond offering.

But Josh Gonze says "not so fast!" He is a municipal bond portfolio manager who thinks the Detroit Public Schools bond offering tomorrow has something to offer an investor.

Josh Gonze is with Thornberg Investment Management based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Politics & Culture
5:25 pm
Mon August 19, 2013

Stateside for Monday, August 19th, 2013

"Innovation" - it's what many say Michigan needs to become a player in the global economy. On today's show, we took a look at the most-innovative companies in our state. What are they doing differently in a post-Great-Recession economy?

And, we traveled to Muskegon - a community that continues to be plagued by gun violence. Dustin Dwyer of Michigan Radio's State of Opportunity project reported on a gun battle that happened last month.

And, the Detroit Public Schools bond offering is tomorrow. Why should investors be interested?

Also, the guide to canoeing Michigan’s rivers just got an update. We spoke with one of the authors about the new edition.

First on the show, donations to Governor Snyder’s civic fund decreased last year by a lot. The 501 c-4 known as The New Energy to Reinvent and Diversity Fund – or “NERD Fund” for short – received $1.3 million in 2011, but in 2012 , the number was $368,000.

As Jonathan Oosting, a reporter for MLive.com, reports, “the NERD fund earns tax-exempt status by purporting to promote charitable causes including lessening the financial burdens of government in the state of Michigan.”

Jonathan Oosting joined us today.

Offbeat
3:14 pm
Mon August 19, 2013

Every single person is on this map of the US

The entire country by race.
Credit Dustin Cable / Cooper Center

Dustin Cable is a demographer who mapped race in the U.S.

Every dot on the map is smaller than one pixel and represents one person. 

Yes, there are 308, 745,538 dots on this map. 

Cable used population data from the 2010 Census to create this comprehensive image. Here's the key to different colors he used to represent different races:

  • Blue: White
  • Green: Black
  • Orange: Hispanic
  • Red: Asian
  • Brown: Other/Native American/multi-racial

If you take a look at the whole country, you can see a lot of segregation. But there are also colors that blend together, like the purple area that covers Chicago.

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Opinion
8:38 am
Mon August 19, 2013

Why merging Detroit and Wayne County makes sense for both

Jack Lessenberry commentary for 08/19/2013.

Last week, I said merging the governments of Detroit and Wayne County was a sensible solution to both their crises.

This idea was not wildly popular. One woman said I was out of my mind, and added Wayne County “just need(ed) to have their crooks behind bars.”

A more thoughtful man said I was “operating from the usual liberal impulse of having successful entities transfer resources to unsuccessful entities,” something he indicated didn’t work.

Well, that gentleman is right. It usually doesn’t work. That’s what has been happening with revenue sharing.

What I am proposing is creating an entirely new entity, writing a new charter and creating a combined county government. I am not suggesting Wayne County simply absorb Detroit.

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Business
2:00 pm
Fri August 16, 2013

Detroit Bikes, manufacturing in the city, opens tonight

Detroit Bikes is manufacturing bike frames in the city.
Credit Detroit Bikes Facebook Page

A  Detroit-based bike manufacturer is holding its grand opening event tonight. Detroit Bikes is part of a mini-trend of companies like AutoBike and Detroit Bicycle. But it's the only company making bike frames in the city.

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Opinion
10:48 am
Fri August 16, 2013

Merging Wayne County and Detroit could fix both

Lessenberry commentary for 8/16/2013

  Everybody knows that former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was thoroughly corrupt. He currently is sitting in jail waiting sentencing in federal court on his latest round of convictions.

His political career is dead and his chance at being free is over, at least for years to come. But you can easily make the argument that, at least in terms of cost to the taxpayers, the administration of Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano is worse.

Certainly Ficano has wasted far more of the taxpayers’ money than Kilpatrick’s grubby crimes cost Detroit. One of the enduring mysteries of state politics is why this man is still in his job. Michigan’s largest county has lurched from scandal to scandal.

There was the case of Turkia Awada Mullin, the crony who somehow was vaulted over far more qualified applicants, made head of the airport authority and given a two hundred thousand dollar “severance” to go from one job to another.

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Stateside
5:05 pm
Thu August 15, 2013

Kevyn Orr apologizes for calling Detroit 'dumb, lazy, happy and rich'

mich.gov Michigan Government

An interview with Daniel Howes.

There's been an apology from Detroit's Emergency Manager for those now-infamous comments made in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. That's where Kevyn Orr described Detroit in these words: "For a long time the city was dumb, lazy, happy and rich."

Speaking to WXYZ-TV reporters, Orr offered up a mea culpa:

"In my wildest dreams I never would have thought that would have been interpreted as an insult. I also perhaps was not as in tune as I should have been to the fact that I said that a week before an election. Not a particularly smart thing to do. I was being dumb in that sense." 

What effect will those words and the apology have on Orr's ability to work with Detroit leaders and citizens? And was there a point to what he was trying to say to the Wall Street Journal?

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Politics & Culture
5:00 pm
Thu August 15, 2013

Stateside for Thursday, August 15th, 2013

Billions and billions of federal dollars, hundreds of different policies, all rest in the U.S. Farm Bill. With very little bipartisanship in Washington these days, it's not too surprising that it's taken so long for Congress to make a deal on the legislation. But, time is running out. Why can’t the 2013 Farm Bill just get done and what does it means for the Michigan and U.S. economies?

And, we took a temperature-check. Just how do local officials think the state Legislature is doing?

Also, the Dearborn Planning Commission approved changes in rules governing the way residents may use their garages, but some people in the Arab community feel the changes are a direct slap at them.

First on the show, there's been an apology from Detroit's emergency manager for those now-infamous comments made in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. That's where Kevyn Orr described Detroit in these words: "For a long time the city was dumb, lazy, happy and rich."

Orr offered up a mea culpa in an interview with WXYZ-TV.

What effect will those words and the apology have on Orr's ability to work with Detroit leaders and citizens?

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes joined us today.

Stateside
5:06 pm
Wed August 14, 2013

The Red Wings are getting a new arena, but is this what Detroit needs?

Olympia Stadium was the original home of the Red Wings.
Library of Congress wikimedia commons

An interview with Marvin Surkin, a specialist in comparative urban politics.

The irony was certainly not lost on many when just about the time the city of Detroit filed for bankruptcy protection Governor Snyder gave the green light to a new arena for the Detroit Red Wings, an arena to be located just immediately north of downtown.

Plans are calling for an 18,000 seat state of the art arena and accompanying entertainment district. It’ll be funded with a mix of $365.5 million in private investment and an estimated public investment of $284 million.

The Detroit Economic Growth Corporation is predicting the new Wings arena and mixed use district could create about 8,300 jobs and it predicts a statewide economic impact of $1.8 billion.

Marvin Surkin would like to challenge the statement that a new sports arena can energize a financially depleted city and boost its morale. He is a specialist in comparative urban politics and co-author of the book "Detroit: I Do Mind Dying." He joined us today from New York City.

Listen to the full interview above.

Politics & Culture
5:02 pm
Wed August 14, 2013

Stateside for Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

According to new data, prisoners in Michigan serve longer sentences than in any other state. That's on top of the fact that Michigan has not reviewed its sentencing guidelines for 15 years. On today’s show, we dug deeper into what's behind prison sentences.

And, as Detroit faces bankruptcy, a deal has been struck to build a new sports arena in the city's downtown. We found out if that's really what Detroit needs right now.

Also, there’s a softball team in West Michigan with some members that have been playing together for four decades. We spoke with two women from the team.

First on the show, where were you ten years ago when the power died?

That's what many of us in the Midwest are asking each other today.

It was ten years ago this day when the largest blackout in North America left 55 million people in 8 states and Canada in the dark.

The cost of the Blackout of 2003? Anywhere from $4-10 billion.

What changes have been made to the grid in that decade? Could a blackout like that happen again?

Maggie Koerth-Bakeris a science columnist for the New York Times Magazine, the science editor at BoingBoing.net, and the author of Before the Lights Go Out.

She joined us today Minneapolis.

Politics & Government
7:49 pm
Tue August 13, 2013

Detroit mayor sets deadline for pet coke removal

DETROIT (AP) - Mayor Dave Bing has issued a deadline for the removal of all petroleum coke from the Detroit riverfront on the city's southwest side.

Bing's office says Detroit Bulk Storage was notified Tuesday to move the material by Aug. 27.

The city says the company failed to cart away all the petroleum coke by an Aug. 9 deadline listed last week in an order from Detroit's Buildings, Safety Engineering and Environmental Department.

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Stateside
5:25 pm
Tue August 13, 2013

Kevyn Orr plans to hire a group to manage federal grant money

Detroit's emergency manager, Kevyn Orr.
Detroit Free Press video Detroit Free Press

An interview with Detroit News Washington Bureau Chief David Shepardson.

Detroit's emergency manager Kevyn Orr is looking to hire a group to oversee Detroit's federal grant money.

This comes at the same time that federal officials are searching for ways to offer more aid to Detroit.

Orr went to Washington D.C. earlier this month to visit with Michigan Senator Carl Levin  and some economists to get ideas about which grants programs would be best for the city.

Detroit News Washington Bureau Chief David Shepardson reported on this in today's Detroit News, and he joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

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