Detroit

Politics & Government
7:44 pm
Sat August 31, 2013

Detroit emergency manager fires pension fund chair

(file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Detroit's state-appointed emergency manager has fired the chairman of one of the city's two pension funds from his municipal job.

The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press report Friday that Kevyn Orr fired Cedric Cook. Cook served as a senior data program analyst for information technology services and has been chairman of the Detroit General Retirement System.

Cook took an all-expenses-paid trip this year to a conference in Hawaii. Orr spokesman Bill Nowling says the dismissal was due to Cook's poor job performance, not for taking the trip.

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Politics & Government
1:25 pm
Sat August 31, 2013

Ford Foundation donates money to help Detroit manage its federal grants

Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr hired the firm Public Consulting Group to help the city manage its federal grants.
Credit www.mich.gov

The Ford Foundation has pledged $127,000 to hire the firm Public Consulting Group to help manage Detroit's federal grant money.

The city has lost money in the past because of poor oversight of its grants, like a $400,000 lapsed grant to the Detroit Police Department for an armored personnel carrier.

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Politics & Government
5:28 pm
Thu August 29, 2013

Detroit featured on MSNBC's 'Morning Joe' today

Screen grab from 'Morning Joe'
MSNBS

It's Thursday, our day to meet up with Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes. Today we spoke with him about how Detroit got the spotlight for the three hours of MSNBC's "Morning Joe" today. The show was broadcast live from the Ford Flat Rock Assembly Plant to highlight the fact that Ford is switching production of its Fusion from Mexico to Flat Rock - spending $550 million to tune-up the Flat Rock plant, and adding 1,400 jobs at the plant. 
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Stateside
5:04 pm
Wed August 28, 2013

Development group having success in attracting new residents to Detroit

The offices of the Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation.
GRDC Facebook

It's no secret that the Great Recession took a huge toll on Michigan's population.

Our state population dropped for six straight years, leveled out from 2010-2011, and increased slightly from 2011-2012.

For many cities and neighborhoods, the post-recession challenge is getting new residents back into vacant homes.

One Detroit neighborhood is succeeding in that challenge: the Grandmont-Rosedale area, which is actually made up of five smaller areas on Detroit's West Side.

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Stateside
3:02 pm
Wed August 28, 2013

Detroit's new festival focuses on sports, noise, idea and form

Kevin Krease, Founder & Director of Action Sports Detroit
LinkedIn

Sports, noise, idea and form. Those are the core components of a new festival that could be created in Detroit.

After Detroit lost its bid for the X-Games, the guys who led Detroit's X-Games campaign decided to come up with a new idea for the city. 

Kevin Krease and Garret Koehler of Action Sports Detroit are integrating food, art, music and sports into their project. The festival, called Assemble, would be one week long.

One of their biggest goals is to make Detroit home to the premier BMX and skate competition in the United States.

To hear the full interview, click the link above.

Politics & Government
12:49 pm
Wed August 28, 2013

Orr says Detroit's parking system losing money, considering sale

Sarah Cwiek Michigan Radio

The Detroit News reports that Kevyn Orr is considering a sale of the city's parking system.

Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek is looking into this story further and will have more later.

Parking systems can be a source of revenue for a city, but according to the News, Orr says the system is losing money:

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Environment & Science
7:38 pm
Mon August 26, 2013

Company says Detroit pet coke piles cleared away (almost)

The pet coke piles in Detroit, near their height earlier this summer.
Sarah Cwiek/Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - A company says it has removed piles of petroleum coke from Detroit's riverfront, but will need more time to haul away other materials from storage sites.

The city-imposed deadline for Detroit Bulk Storage to get rid of the petroleum coke is Tuesday.

Spokesman Daniel Cherrin says the company has asked for additional time to remove limestone aggregate and that it may take until early next month to clear it all away.

Bob Warfield, a spokesman for Mayor Dave Bing, says daily inspections show the petroleum coke was being removed.

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Stateside
1:25 pm
Mon August 26, 2013

New book explores how one Motown song embodied the spirit of revolution

Writer Mark Kurlansky.
Wikipedia

An interview with writer Mark Kurlansky.

“Dancing in the Street,” written by Mickey Stevenson, Ivy Jo Hunter and Marvin Gaye, and recorded in two takes, less than 10 minutes, by Martha Reeves. For many, that song is Motown.

Little did they know after slapping down Martha’s vocals in that studio in Hitsville on West Grand Boulevard, they had created a song that would come to represent a watershed moment in history--Motown’s history, Detroit’s history, and America’s history.

Writer Mark Kurlansky talks about the story of how this hit Motown song became the rallying point for these important moments in history in his newest book, “Ready For A Brand New Beat: How ‘Dancing in the Street’ Became the Anthem for a Changing America.”

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Stateside
7:06 pm
Thu August 22, 2013

Should the Packard Plant be saved?

Albert Duce Wikimedia Commons

An interview with Anya Sirota and Robin Boyle.

Wayne County officials say they soon hope to close a deal with a developer to buy a former car plant: the Packard Plant, a crumbling 35-acre site on Detroit's east side. It's become an iconic image that, to many, represents industrial decay and the decline of a once-proud Detroit.

The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press report the deal between the county and Evanston, Illinois based developer Bill Hults is tentatively set to close next week. Hults wants to convert the 110-year-old facility into a commercial, housing and entertainment complex.

Many hurdles remain for Hults, who hasn't disclosed his partners or completed a project of this size. 

Hults plans to buy the plant for its $1 million unpaid tax bill.

If the deal fails, the complex would be put in a public auction in September.

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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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