Detroit

Education
7:34 am
Mon November 4, 2013

Detroit Public Schools enrollment up 14% in high schools

DPS high schools reported a 14 percent increase over last year. Overall enrollment is down by two percent.
Credit 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.

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Law
3:49 pm
Sat November 2, 2013

Detroit, bankruptcy creditors talking in private

(file photo)
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.

Education
5:31 pm
Fri November 1, 2013

Breaking the school-to-prison pipeline

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.

Arts & Culture
4:31 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

Want history, architecture and beheadings? Try Detroit's haunted bike tour

Outside Wheelhouse Detroit.
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.

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Politics & Government
10:56 am
Thu October 31, 2013

How Detroit kicked "Devil's Night" to the curb

Back in the 90's, Devil's Night saw some 800 buildings blazing across the city
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. 

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Stateside
10:15 am
Thu October 31, 2013

The history of Halloween in Michigan

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.

Education
7:19 pm
Sun October 27, 2013

Detroit taxpayers foot big bill for closed schools

Abandoned school in Detroit
Credit 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.

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Business
12:46 pm
Sun October 27, 2013

Health firm's growth impacts Detroit area

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.

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Business
10:30 am
Sat October 26, 2013

Winning Packard plant online auction bid tops $6M

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.

It's Just Politics
4:05 pm
Fri October 25, 2013

Few issues reveal the political divide like auto insurance…

It's Just Politics with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta

It's Just Politics with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta

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.

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Education
10:05 am
Fri October 25, 2013

Helping schools spot mental illness

One in five kids will, at one point, struggle with mental illness. Can schools get better at spotting them?
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.

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Politics & Government
6:05 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

Banning Bridge cards in strip clubs, liquor stores and casinos ?

Michigan's Bridge Card, which provides food and cash assistance benefits.

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. 

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Stateside
4:05 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

Talking with Detroiters

Skyline of Detroit.
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.

Politics & Government
4:50 pm
Mon October 21, 2013

Community conversation about Detroit's future

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. 

Arts & Culture
10:45 am
Mon October 21, 2013

Sex, art and carnies: Detroit's Theatre Bizarre

Walking into Theatre Bizarre, this guy is there to greet you.
Kate Wells Michigan Radio

Whips and punk rock and burlesque. It's better with sound.

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.

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Transportation
7:15 pm
Sun October 20, 2013

Detroit cancels bus runs Monday, cites `sick out'

Credit 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."

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Business
1:49 pm
Sun October 20, 2013

Marketing of Detroit heats up despite bankruptcy

Downtown Detroit (file photo)
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.

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Politics & Government
1:50 pm
Wed October 16, 2013

Government shutdown postpones construction at Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge

U.S. Rep. John Dingell (D-MI 12th District), with Youth Conservation Corps members at an event at the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge in 2011.
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.

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Opinion
10:00 am
Wed October 16, 2013

So what can we do?

Lessenberry commentary for 10/16/13

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?

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Politics & Government
4:07 pm
Mon October 14, 2013

Flint begins knocking down hundreds of abandoned homes

Wrecking crews turn the abandoned home at 2010 Barth Street into the empty lot at 2010 Barth Street
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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